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CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS (12-8-1) at
EDMONTON OILERS (8-13-1)
Start Time: 8:08 p.m. MST
Radio: 630 CHED, Oilers Radio Network and online at edmontonoilers.com.
In the past few seasons, a visit from the Chicago Blackhawks generally meant a game against one of the league’s bottom feeders – a team the Oilers could beat no problem provided they made little mistakes.
This season, that has all changed.
After missing the playoffs four straight seasons and eight of the last nine, the Chicago Blackhawks appear poised to enter the postseason this year after a very impressive start to the season.
And unlike some teams who get off to fast starts and then fizzle out, the ‘Hawks have been consistently getting better as the season has gone on – despite their top sniper Martin Havlat being on the shelf for the majority of the season. Chicago is 7-2-1 in its last 10 games after a big 2-1 win in Calgary on Thursday.
In their last game, the Oilers were edged 3-2 by the Colorado Avalanche. The Avs scored the game's first goal before Edmonton tied it up on a Shawn Horcoff power play marker. Colorado went ahead again in the second period before Ales Hemsky evened it at 2-2. Marek Svatos scored the winner midway through the second period. LAST GAME: Avalanche 3, Oilers 2 Tonight is Edmonton’s first match against a non-Northwest Division opponent in nine games. It is also the Oilers first of four meetings against the Blackhawks this season.
Just The Facts...
Former teammates go head-to-head tonight - Four of the top rookies in the NHL get together tonight at Rexall Place and among them Chicago’s Patrick Kane and Edmonton’s Sam Gagner have a bit of a history with one another. ...more News Updates The Answers
Pre-Game Video... Roloson, Sanderson, Penner & MacTavish comment on tonight's game vs. the Blackhawks. 700K Gagner, Cogliano & MacTavish comment on the rookie talent facing each other in tonight's game vs. Chicago. 700K Pre-Game Audio... Pre-Game vs. Chicago (Listen to all: Cogliano, Gagner, Penner, Roloson, Sanderson and MacTavish)
Wednesday's Video: Watch post-practice interviews with Staios, Horcoff, Stoll and MacTavish. 700K Wednesday's Audio: Nov 23 - Off-Day: Sam Gagner
Nov 23 - Off-Day: Shawn Horcoff
Nov 23 - Off-Day: Jarret Stoll
Nov 23 - Off-Day: Craig MacTavish
Listen to Staios, Horcoff, Stoll & MacTavish
The Numbers Click here for tonight's Oilers and Blackhawks Game Notes The Other Side
Pre-Game Audio Pre-Game Interview with Blackhawks Head Coach Denis Savard
Pre-Game Interview with Patrick Kane
Features from chicagoblackhawks.com Send in the Clowns - chicagoblackhawks.com contributor Van Oler shares his thoughts on the Blackhawks' current circus road trip and why this year is different. ...more One Minute Remaining chicagoblackhawks.com contributor Harvey Wittenberg shares his thoughts on why 13 is the magic number for the Blackhawks. ...more Item of the Game Each game, a different item is featured at The Oilers Store at Rexall Place.
Tonight's item is a Mens and Ladies Tickets for Troops T-Shirt ($19.99).
From the Fans
Click here to read tonight's gameday thread on the Oilers message board. Odds and Ends
Tom Gilbert on Oilers Live - Oilers rookie Tom Gilbert was a guest on Oilers Live on Friday afternoon. The defenceman stopped into the Oilers office and chatted with Morley Scott for about 30 minutes, answering your questions. ...more Get on board with Oilers audio and video podcasts! - Edmonton Oilers Christmas Packs are back in time for the holiday season, with your chance to give the gift of hockey to the Oilers fan in your life. Follow the link to find out more information and to register. ...more New Oilers Player Wallpaper Available! - You can now download the following players: Cogliano, Gagner, Greene, Hemsky, Horcoff, Moreau, Nilsson, Penner, Pitkanen, Roloson, Sanderson, Souray, Stoll, Tarnstrom and Torres with more coming soon! ...more Tickets for Troops Online Auction - Proceeds from the Tickets For Troops Online Auction will go to the Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation and the Garrison Edmonton Military Family Resource Centre. ...more Marc Ciampa
edmontonoilers.com From the Wire
Whether it's due to injuries or penalties, playing short-handed has hardly been a problem for the Chicago Blackhawks this season.
After losing two straight to open their six-game road trip, the Blackhawks look to win their third in a row away from home for the first time in two years when they face the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday.
With two more forwards out with injuries, the Blackhawks scored a pair of short-handed goals in a 2-1 win at Calgary on Thursday to improve to 2-1-1 on their extended road swing that ends Sunday in Vancouver.
Chicago hasn't won three in a row on the road since Nov. 10-19, 2005, which included wins over Calgary and Edmonton.
The Blackhawks (12-8-1), who had 12 short-handed goals while finishing last in the Central Division in 2006-07, has an NHL-leading 10 this season after scoring five in its last two contests. They scored three with a man down in a 5-3 win at Detroit last Saturday for their first win on the trip.
Chicago last scored a short-handed goal in three straight games from March 16-21, 1995.
"We're aggressive all over the ice, we're blocking a lot of shots, and we have good speed with our forwards," said Patrick Sharp, who scored his league-leading fifth short-handed goal Thursday and second in two games. "Put all that together, throw in a little bit of luck and a few good bounces."
Sharp has five of his team-high 11 goals in his last three contests. His only goal in seven games against Edmonton was short-handed in Chicago's 2-1 home win on April 4 in the teams' most recent meeting.
Jacob Dowell scored in his NHL debut Thursday and is the latest rookie to contribute for the Blackhawks. First-year players Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews have combined for 15 goals and 38 points.
"It's a great feeling. I've worked hard and it's finally paying off, getting my chance here," the 22-year-old Dowell said.
Dowell was called up after Rene Bourque was lost for up to six weeks with a broken thumb. Chicago also played without veteran Jason Williams, who is day-to-day with a sore groin.
The Blackhawks are still awaiting the return of Martin Havlat, who has missed 20 games with a shoulder injury.
"With all the guys going down, it's getting tough. We're pretty thin," Chicago coach Denis Savard said. "It's difficult when you have to slot certain players into certain positions and move them up a couple slots, but we've just got to hang in there."
Nikolai Khabibulin made 30 saves Thursday for his second straight win and fifth in his last seven starts. He went 2-1-0 with a 1.36 goals-against average last season against Edmonton.
The Blackhawks have won just twice in their last 13 visits to Edmonton, losing their last three trips.
The Oilers (8-13-1), though, are 4-7-0 at home this season and are tied with Los Angeles for the fewest points overall (17) in the Western Conference.
Edmonton fell 3-2 to Colorado on Thursday for its third loss in four contests on its season-high six-game homestand.
"We had a (season) high number of turnovers tonight," Oilers coach Craig MacTavish said. "You can't be turning the puck over like that."
Shawn Horcoff had a goal and an assist for the second straight game, and he leads Edmonton with nine goals and 20 points. Horcoff has six goals and nine assists in 21 games against the Blackhawks.
Mathieu Garon stopped 28 shots in his fifth start in the team's last six games ahead of No. 1 goaltender Dwayne Roloson, who has lost five in a row. Garon could be back in net Saturday, with a 4-1-0 career record and 1.93 GAA versus Chicago.