Oilers-Blackhawks Preview

The Edmonton Oilers have stumbled a bit since posting six wins

in a row for the first time in over nine years.

The Chicago Blackhawks seem to be clicking on all cylinders

following a season-worst three-game skid.

Hoping to avoid a third consecutive defeat for the first time

this season, the Oilers conclude a six-game road trip seeking a

third straight win at the United Center on Sunday night.

Edmonton (9-5-2), which outscored opponents 17-6 during a

six-game run Oct. 22-Nov. 3, has since dropped three of four. One

night after falling 6-3 to Boston, the Oilers were shut out for the

first time this season in a 3-0 loss to Detroit on Friday.

Former Blackhawk Nikolai Khabibulin made 27 saves, surrendering

a season-worst three goals.

“From winning to losing, it changes so quick,” said Khabibulin,

who dropped to 7-1-2. “We don’t want to panic, but we’ve got to

realize what was working for us and get back to that.”

Edmonton has scored just one power-play goal in 16 opportunities

on its current trip. Since opening their trek with a 3-0 win over

Los Angeles, the Oilers have allowed 14 goals – just two fewer than

their total through their first 11 games.

“It’s not the direction that we want to be going,” said left

wing Taylor Hall, who has just one assist in seven road games. “We

really want to finish this road trip at .500. If we do, I think

that would be a successful road trip considering the teams that

we’ve played. We want to get our game going the right way, the way

we were playing when we were on our win streak.”

Edmonton has won two in a row and three of five in Chicago, but

has dropped nine of 12 overall between the teams.

Regrouping Sunday could prove difficult given the Blackhawks’

(10-4-3) recent offensive outburst.

After an 0-2-1 stretch from Nov. 4-8, Chicago followed up its

highest scoring output of the season – a 6-3 win at Columbus on

Thursday – with a 4-1 victory over Calgary on Friday.

Forward Patrick Kane tallied his team-leading 17th point with an

empty-netter for his second goal in as many nights. Patrick Sharp

had a season-high three assists, while Dan Carcillo and Marian

Hossa added two apiece.

Also coming up big were defensemen Duncan Keith and Brent

Seabrook, who each notched their first goals of the season. The

Blackhawks, who rank near the top of the league with 3.18 goals per

game, are 3-0-0 when Keith and Seabrook register a point in the

same game.

“That’s part of our game that needs to be there,” Keith said. “I

think it’s important that we stay on that and help contribute.

“It’s nice to get points and things like that but the main thing

is just keeping plays alive and having good gaps and supporting our


Ray Emery spelled No. 1 goaltender Corey Crawford, turning away

24 shots to improve to 3-0-1. Despite the impressive display,

Crawford, who’s allowed 12 goals over his last three games, could

be back in goal against the Oilers.

Crawford has gone 1-1-0 with a 1.52 goals-against average in two

career starts against Edmonton.

Khabibulin, who spent four seasons in Chicago before signing

with the Oilers in 2009-10, has since gone 2-2-0 with a 3.57 GAA

versus his former team – surrendering four goals three times.

He’ll look to slow down Kane and Blackhawks’ captain Jonathan

Toews, who have compiled a combined 12 goals and 15 assists in

their last eight contests against Edmonton.