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EDMONTON OILERS (16-17-3) at
CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS (17-15-2)
Start Time: 5:08 p.m. MST
Television: Molson Canadian Oilers Pay Per View
Radio: 630 CHED, Oilers Radio Network and online at edmontonoilers.com. Game Notes | Edmonton/Chicago Stats Comparison | Player Head-to-Head Statistics The Edmonton Oilers have an opportunity to head into Christmas on a positive note tonight when they meet the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center in Chicago.
After a first-period goal by Joni Pitkanen, Edmonton took a 1-0 lead into the third period on Friday night against the New Jersey Devils but two quick goals by Patrik Elias and Brian Gionta plus an empty-netter from John Madden resulted in a 3-1 defeat.
LAST GAME: Devils 3, Oilers 1 The Oilers right now sit in a tie for 12th place in the Western Conference with Phoenix but are only one point behind Chicago and St. Louis for 10th and five back of Calgary for the eighth and final playoff spot.
Last night, Chicago skated into Ottawa and beat the second best team in the NHL 4-3 in overtime. Jonathan Toews scored 2:07 into the extra period to seal the victory after the Blackhawks came back from a 3-1 deficit. The win improved Chicago's record to 3-6-0 in their last nine.
This is the second of four meetings between these two teams this season. The last meeting, Edmonton won 3-2 in a shootout at Rexall Place on November 24. Just The Facts...
OILERS TO WATCH: With Dwayne Roloson back in Edmonton with an illness, Mathieu Garon gets the start tonight. Garon has not lost a road game this season. He is 6-0-0 in nine road games played with a 1.83 goals-against average and .935 save percentage... Denis Grebeshkov is expected to get back in the lineup tonight with Ladislav Smid a healthy scratch, based on yesterday's practice pairings. Grebeshkov... Sheldon Souray will be paired with Steve Staios, Grebeshkov with Tarnstrom and Pitkanen with Gilbert.
BLACKHAWKS TO WATCH: Averaging nearly a point per game this season, Patrick Kane is making a strong case for himself as rookie of the year. After encountering a minor slump, his performance has picked up again recently. In his last 10 games, he has a goal and 9 assists for 10 points after getting only an assist in the previous six games... Goaltender Patrick Lalime could get the start tonight after Nikolai Khabibulin played last night in Ottawa. Lalime is 4-5-0 with a 2.52 GAA and .897 save percentage this season in 10 appearances.
ROSTER UPDATES: Edmonton – Dwayne Roloson (strep throat) is out. Ethan Moreau (ankle) is doubtful. Matt Greene (ankle) is out. Raffi Torres (knee) is out; Chicago – Martin Havlat (groin) is doubtful. Kevyn Adams (knee) is out. Rene Bourque (thumb) is out. Jacob Dowell (foot) is out. Jason Williams (groin) is out.
FAST FACTS: Edmonton is 4-4-0 versus the Central Division this season while Chicago is 2-4-1 against the Northwest... Both Edmonton and Chicago are 4-8 in games decided by two goals... The Oilers have not had a game this season where they managed the exact same number of shots as their opponent... Chicago's power play is 13th in the NHL at 18.7% while Edmonton's is 30th at 12.3%. On the road, the Oilers power play is tied for 26th in the NHL at 13.9%... Chicago's penalty killing at home is much worse than it is on the road. On the road, the Blackhawks have the best penatly kill at 92.6% but at home it's 78.1%.
Pre-Game Video... Pre-Game comments from Souray, Cogliano, Thoresen, Hemsky & MacTavish. 700K Pre-Game Audio... Pre-Game at Chicago: Sheldon Souray
Pre-Game at Chicago: Shawn Horcoff
Pre-Game at Chicago: Steve Staios
Pre-Game at Chicago: Andrew Cogliano
Pre-Game at Chicago: Ales Hemsky
Pre-Game at Chicago: Patrick Thoresen
Pre-Game at Chicago: Craig MacTavish
Listen to all (in order: Cogliano, Hemsky, Horcoff, Souray, Staios, Thoresen and MacTavish) Saturday's Video... Staios, Souray, Cogliano, Thoresen, Hemsky & MacTavish all spoke with the media following practice at Rexall Place on Saturday. 700K We asked Thoresen, Staios, Hemsky, Horcoff, Cogliano & Souray what their plans are for the holidays this year. 700K
Oilers recall Drouin-Deslauriers - The Edmonton Oilers have added goaltender Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers to the roster on emergency recall from the Springfield Falcons of the American Hockey League. ...more More News The Other Side HawkCast 3.12: John McDonough - President John McDonough answers Blackhawk fans' questions about TV, the organ, the Hawks possible fan convention and more. Plus, Asst. GM of Hockey Operations Stan Bowman discusses the Eager trade and Cam Barker's recall Listen now ...more William Petersen to drop the puck Sunday - Evanston native William Petersen, star of "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" on CBS, will drop the ceremonial first puck prior to Sunday night’s game vs. the Edmonton Oilers (6 pm). ...more Practice Notes/Barker Video - Newly-recalled defenseman Cam Barker will be paired with James Wisniewski Saturday night in Ottawa. Get the latest notes from Thursday's practice, including an update on Rene Bourque. Barker Practice Video>> ...more Odds and Ends
Oilers Photo Blog brought to you by Bell - In this edition of the Oilers Photo Blog brought to you by Bell, Morley Scott provides photos and captions from Detroit, St. Louis, California, Dallas and back here in Edmonton. ...more From the Wire
Coming off their first road win in a month, the Chicago Blackhawks could be without Martin Havlat when they return home to face the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday night.
Chicago (17-15-2) rallied from two goals down to win 4-3 in overtime at Ottawa on Saturday for its second straight victory and its first away from home since beating Calgary on Nov. 22. It was just the third win in nine December games for the Blackhawks, who play their final three games of 2007 at home.
"You have to come to play every night and I think it showed," Chicago's Patrick Sharp said. "It's a good confidence-booster for our team and hopefully we can build off of it."
The Blackhawks, though, might be without Havlat after he suffered a groin injury during his first game in Ottawa since he was traded by the Senators to Chicago in July 2006.
"We'll see how he is (Sunday)," Chicago coach Denis Savard said.
Havlat missed 22 games after injuring his shoulder in the season opener. He sat out 26 last season due to ankle, shoulder and groin injuries.
Chicago, though, was able to get by without Havlat - who has five goals and six assists in 12 games - earlier this season as it went 12-8-2 without him.
Rookie Jonathan Toews scored the game winner and added two assists. Sharp had a goal and set up Toews for the Blackhawks, who have nine goals in their last two games after scoring just two while losing their previous two contests.
Sharp has three goals in his last two games and scored in Chicago's 2-1 win over Edmonton on April 1 in the teams' most recent meeting at the United Center. He did not play in the Blackhawks' 3-2 shootout loss at Edmonton on Nov. 24 because of flu-like symptoms.
Chicago will be looking for its third straight home win over Edmonton, and is 3-0-2 versus the Oilers there since its last regulation loss in the series in January 2004.
Edmonton (16-17-3) lost 3-1 at home to New Jersey on Friday as it failed to earn at least one point in its last six games.
The Oilers, who have won their last two road games and four of their last five away from home, couldn't hold a 1-0 lead after two periods against the Devils.
"We just gave that game away," said Oilers coach Craig MacTavish, whose team had two shots on goal in the second period. "It was Christmas time and we wrapped it up and gave it to them."
Hemsky, who has 10 points in his last nine games, had a goal against Chicago last month.
Mathieu Garon made 30 saves Friday and could make his second straight start as Dwayne Roloson continues to suffer from strep throat. Garon is 4-1-0 with a 1.93 goals-against average against the Blackhawks.