EDMONTON OILERS (32-31-5) at
CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS (33-29-6)
1:08 p.m. MDT
Rogers Sportsnet West
630 CHED, Oilers Radio Network and online at edmontonoilers.com.
Game Notes | Oilers/Blackhawks Stats Comparison | Player Head-to-Head Statistics
On the heels of a 2-1 overtime win Friday night in Columbus, the Edmonton Oilers play a rare afternoon game today versus the Chicago Blackhawks.
Edmonton can tie Columbus in the standings with a win today and move within a single point of the Blackhawks if the win is in regulation time. They came within 0.8 seconds of a regulation win Friday night but the Blue Jackets scored the tying goal at that time. Andrew Cogliano
's overtime winner ensured that Edmonton would leave the Ohio city with two points. .
When you look further up the standings, both Edmonton and Chicago can ill afford to lose the game today. Vancouver and Nashville are tied for eighth spot with 78 points each. That puts them seven points ahead of the Blackhawks and nine up on Edmonton.
The Blackhawks lost 3-2 on Friday to San Jose after winning their previous three games in a row. Overall, Chicago is 10-4-1 in their last 15 games as they make a late push for the playoffs.
Edmonton has won twice and lost once to Chicago this season with one of the wins coming in a shootout. This is the fourth and final meeting of the year between the two teams.
Just The Facts...
OILERS TO WATCH:
With Theo Peckham
being returned to Springfield on Saturday, Ladislav Smid
is likely to return to the lineup this afternoon after missing 18 games due to a knee/ankle injury suffered in practice several weeks ago. Smid last played on February 19. He has four assists in 51 games this season with the Oilers... Andrew Cogliano
's overtime-winning goal was his third goal in four games and 13th of the season overall. Cogliano has picked up at least a point in five of his last six games (4g, 3a, 7pts) while linemate Robert Nilsson has a point in six straight and eight of nine.
BLACKHAWKS TO WATCH:
Goaltender Patrick Lalime has played very well with goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin
out with a back injury. He has started 10 of Chicago's last 12 games with a record of 6-4-0 in those games. He's been particularly good at home this season with a record of 7-3-0 with a 1.70 goals-against average and .927 save percentage... After struggling near the midpoint of the season, rookies Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane seem to have found their respective games again. Toews has seven points in his last eight games while Kane has eight points in his last nine including three goals... Defenceman Duncan Keith is an impressive +11 in his last 13 games while Brent Seabrook si +11 in his last 15.
Edmonton – Geoff Sanderson (back) is questionable. Ladislav Smid
(ankle/leg) is questionable. Ethan Moreau (broken leg) is out. Shawn Horcoff
(shoulder) is out. Sheldon Souray
(shoulder) is out. Raffi Torres (knee) is out; Chicago – Kevyn Adams (torn ACL) is out. Yanic Perrault (wrist) is doubtful. Nikolai Khabibulin
(back) is doubtful. Brent Sopel (wrist) is doubtful. Ben Eager (shoulder) is doubtful. Dave Bolland (hip) is questionable. Martin Havlat (shoulder) is questionable.
With 72 points through 68 games, Chicago is already ahead of last year's final total of 71 points. A win today would tie Edmonton with last season's total of 71 points... The most games over .500 Chicago has been this season is five games over and they can match that with a win today. Likewise, Edmonton's most games over .500 is two games and they can match that with a victory in this game...Chicago has lost a total of 309 man games due to injury this season, dwarfing Edmonton's 261. However, the Oilers are approaching a franchise record in man games lost set last season at 286. The record will be broken with Moreau, Horcoff, Souray and Torres out for the rest of the year and guaranteed to miss 56 games combined. Those injuries will push the total to 317 at the very least. Last season, Chicago had their injury woes as well with 345 man-games lost to injury/illness to lead the NHL.
Oilers assign Peckham to Springfield
- The Edmonton Oilers have assigned defenceman Theo Peckham
to the Springfield Falcons of the American Hockey League. ...more
The Other Side
- In The Spotlight: Patrick Sharp - All the zeroes printed on his new contract offer sheet were enough to make Patrick Sharp lift a pen and sign the document. But back in January, the Chicago Blackhawks winger wasn't just signing over his services for a great deal of cash. ...more
- Bobby Hull / Stan Mikita Night Coverage - With Mikita and Hull (Photos) leading the way, the Hawks were the talk of the town, writes Van Oler ... In 1965-66, Hull became the first player to top 50 goals Moments ... Bobby and Stan answer your questions on HawkCast! ...more
- Hawks' special night ends with loss - With Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita looking on, Brent Seabrook and Jonathan Toews both tallied for Chicago, but Patrick Marleau's 2nd period goal handed the Hawks a 3-2 loss Friday at the UC. Hull/Mikita Photos | Bourque/Seabrook/Toews ...more
Odds and Ends
- A grand event for Hemsky, shootout - Ales Hemsky earned a special footnote in NHL history last Sunday. The speedy forward snapped a shot past Columbus goaltender Pascal Leclaire for the NHL's 1,000th shootout goal. ...more
From the Wire
Nearly a month ago, the Chicago Blackhawks endured a losing streak that all but dashed their hopes of a return to the playoffs. A successful stretch, however, has them back in the thick of the race.
The Blackhawks hope to continue their postseason push and conclude their three-game homestand with a win on Sunday against the surging Edmonton Oilers.
Chicago (33-29-6) dropped five straight from Jan. 22-Feb. 6, and sat 10 points out of the final postseason spot at the end of that skid. Since then, the Blackhawks have gone 10-4-1 to move into 11th in the Western Conference - three points ahead of Edmonton (32-31-5) and only six from the eighth and final playoff berth.
The Blackhawks, though, didn't come away with the result they desired their last time out, as their three-game winning streak ended with a 3-2 loss to San Jose on Friday. Brent Seabrook and Jonathan Toews each scored for Chicago, which managed just 19 shots after having at least 28 in the previous four contests.
"The puck was on the walls a lot," Blackhawks coach Denis Savard said. "We didn't connect on enough tape-to-tape passes. Their forecheck was always in good position."
The loss also came after the organization honored Hall of Famers and team ambassadors Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita, who both played for Chicago's last Stanley Cup-winning team in 1961.
The Blackhawks hope to end that title drought as they seek their first postseason berth since 2001-02. They can start by earning a split of the 2007-08 series with the Oilers, who have won two of three meetings, including a 4-1 victory on Feb. 6 in Edmonton.
Chicago hasn't lost the series since going 0-3-1 in 2003-04.
The Blackhawks' lone win this season was a 3-2 home victory on Dec. 23, giving them three straight over the Oilers at the United Center since Dec. 10, 2006. It's the longest home winning streak in the all-time series since a four-game run from Dec. 17, 1989-Oct. 17, 1991 at Chicago Stadium.
Chicago had won a season high-tying five straight home contests before Friday's loss. Patrick Lalime made 20 saves, while starting for the seventh time in eight games in place of No. 1 goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin (back spasms).
Lalime is 2-1-0 with a 2.01 goals-against average in his last three starts, and is 2-4-0 with a tie and a 2.56 GAA in eight games against Edmonton.
The Oilers, nine points out of a playoff spot, have won five of six since a three-game losing streak from Feb. 16-22. Rookie Andrew Cogliano scored 1:53 into overtime to give them a 2-1 victory at Columbus on Friday.
Edmonton allowed the tying goal with one second left in regulation before posting its sixth straight one-goal win.
"It seems that nothing is easy for us," Oilers coach Craig MacTavish said. "To give that up was disappointing at the time, obviously. We don't need to be giving Columbus points either, but had some satisfaction that we came back and got the win in overtime."
Mathieu Garon made 30 saves to improve to 5-1-0 with a 2.90 GAA in his last six games. He is 5-2-0 with a 1.96 GAA in seven contests versus Chicago.
The Oilers, who play four of the next five on the road, have lost three of their last four contests as visitors. They last won in Chicago, 4-3, on April 7, 2006.