AT THE MORNING SKATE:
The Oilers did not run lines at the morning skate, but fans can assume Head Coach Pat Quinn will ice the trios showcased in Wednesday's practice. That morning, the only notable change was Andrew Cogliano moved from the dot to the left wing, with Ryan Potulny at center and Patrick O'Sullivan on the right. Ethan Moreau, Sam Gagner, and Fernando Pisani also skated together.
Prepping for the Pens
After being put between the pipes early in the second period Tuesday night vs. Nashville, Devan Dubnyk will make the start tonight vs. the Penguins.
"Every game for me right now is exciting, any time I get a chance to get in there, so this is just another one for me and obviously going to be a good test for all of us," he said.
When asked about facing the formidable Penguins, the young goalie said he approaches every game the same way.
"Obviously I can't sit here and tell you that there's not guys over there that you've got to be aware of, but I've only got four games experience, so for me right now to get on the ice I've got to be at the top of my game, no matter who I'm playing against," Dubnyk said. "I have to play goal the same way I usually would and that's what I'll try to go do."
Defenceman Sheldon Souray has stared down Crosby & Co. before, and he admitted that the visitors will be "tough to beat."
"We've got to keep working on the things that we've been talking about here and we're going to have our hands full with guys like Crosby and Malkin and Billy Guerin's been playing really well, so we've got to have our best game face on here tonight and be prepared," he said.
A welcome flame
No, it's not another visit from our provincial rivals. The Oilers will welcome the Olympic Flame to Rexall Place tonight, along with an impressive selection of past and present winter Olympic athletes.
PENGUINS (29-18-1) at OILERS (16-24-5)
Last 10: Pittsburgh 3-7-0; Edmonton 1-8-1.
Season Series: This is the lone meeting between the teams. They last faced each other on November 6, 2008 when Pittsburgh raced out to a 5-0 lead against the Oilers. Edmonton battled back and closed the gap to 5-4 but the Penguins prevailed.
Big Story: This is Game 4 of a five-game road trip for the Penguins, and it's provided somewhat of a wake-up call for the defending Stanley Cup champs. Pittsburgh has earned four of a possible six points thus far on the trip and will certainly be looking for more against Edmonton, which has struggled mightily all season.
Penguins: In a rare visit to Calgary, Sidney Crosby scored his 30th goal of the season and Fleury made 37 saves as the Pens earned a hard-fought 3-1 victory against the Flames at the Pengrowth Saddledome. It was a nice way to rebound after Pittsburgh dropped a 4-3 decision at Minnesota on Monday night.
Afterwards, Crosby gave Fleury all the credit.
"He's always really strong for us, but tonight I think he stepped up even more," the Pens' captain said. "He made great saves throughout the night. It was nice to get rewarded for really working hard. Our penalty kill did a really good job, 'Flower' did a really good job, and we really had to stick with that one all the way through."
Oilers: Very little has gone right for Edmonton this season, and there doesn't appear to be a light at the end of the tunnel. Less than 24 hours after suffering a 5-3 loss to Nashville -- the team's fifth straight defeat -- the Oilers learned that No. 1 goalie Nikolai Khabibulin would be undergoing back surgery. He's likely to miss the rest of the season.
"We have been actually responding with our kids, anyway," Edmonton coach Pat Quinn said. "Clearly, he wasn't capable of even coming to the rink and participating in any fashion. It just became official."
Who's Hot: Crosby has scored in four straight games, tallying six times during that span. He is just one goal behind Patrick Marleau for the League lead.
Injury Report: Pens backup goalie Brent Johnson participated in the morning skate, but sat out Wednesday's game for undisclosed reasons. His status for Thursday is unknown. Brooks Orpik also did not play due to an undisclosed injury. … Besides Khabibulin, the Oilers are also missing Lubomir Visnovsky (ankle, day-to-day), Marc Pouliot (sports hernia, day-to-day), Ales Hemsky (shoulder, out for season) and Mike Comrie (mononucleosis, out indefinitely).
Stat Pack: Despite all of its firepower up front, Pittsburgh entered Wednesday's action with the 29th-ranked power play. It was able to convert against the Flames, however, when Bill Guerin tipped in Alex Goligoski's shot from the blue line during the second period.
Puck Drop: "We've had our ups and downs the last two years, and you always think it'll get better. This is just not going the way we want it to go." -- Oilers defenseman Tom Gilbert.