Hawks try to get back in win column against Oilers
BLACKHAWKS (29-15-7) at OILERS (19-26-5)
TV: TSN, CSN-Chicago
Chicago 5-2-3; Edmonton 3-5-2
Fourth and final meeting of the season. The Blackhawks doubled up the Oilers 6-3 in their first matchup, but were routed 9-2 in their first trip to Rexall Place and edged 4-3 in the most recent game on Jan. 2. Edmonton is led by Jordan Eberle's 2 goals and 8 points, followed in the scoring column by Taylor Hall (4-2-6) and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (0-6-6).
This game suddenly means a lot more to the Blackhawks than merely trying to put the Oilers back in their place. In losing their last three games, Chicago has fallen from the top of the Western Conference standings to sixth place, while being passed in the Central Division by Detroit, Nashville and St. Louis. The Hawks lost in overtime to the Canucks to begin a nine-game road trip that consists almost entirely of teams already in the playoff picture or battling for a spot, so taking advantage of an Edmonton squad that is double digits out of eighth is paramount.
On the bright side, Chicago got captain Jonathan Toews
and fellow top forward Patrick Sharp
back in the lineup and can feel good about the fact it could have won Tuesday's game in Vancouver and probably would have if not for the goaltending heroics of Cory Schneider, who stopped 37 shots. The Blackhawks led briefly after Viktor Stalberg
put them ahead 1:17 into the third period, but Cody Hodgson evened the score less than three minutes later and Daniel Sedin's goal 3:37 into overtime sent them to a 3-2 defeat.
"It's pretty frustrating," said Toews, who assisted on a goal after missing the final game before the All-Star break due to a wrist injury. "We had chances to distance ourselves, a ton of odd-man rushes. Give their goaltender credit, he played well."
It appears likely Edmonton will spend the final months of the season playing the spoiler role -- if that's the case, it suited the Oilers well on Tuesday as they recorded a 3-2 victory against an Avalanche team on the fringe of the playoff race. Eberle and Eric Belanger staked the home team to a 2-0 lead after 20 minutes, Hall scored the eventual game-winner in the third and Devan Dubnyk continued to stake his claim toward more playing time and perhaps the No. 1 job down the stretch with a 31-save performance.
"It's been nice to get the opportunity to keep going and roll with it," Dubnyk said. "I have felt good throughout the year but there were some small things that I needed to work on to get to this point. I certainly can't take it for granted. I have to keep my nose down and realize what is allowing me to do this (and) keep doing it."
Who's Hot: Marian Hossa
's nine-game points streak ended in the Blackhawks' loss -- he had 3 goals and 8 assists over that stretch. Toews has 5 goals and 5 assists in the last eight games he's played. … Dubnyk is 2-0-1 in his last three starts for the Oilers with a .956 save percentage. Hall has goals in consecutive games.
Chicago is now fully healthy with the exception of forward Daniel Carcillo
(knee), who is out for the season. … Edmonton is on the verge of getting back Nugent-Hopkins, who was placed on injured reserve after injuring his shoulder on Jan. 3. Defensemen Cam Barker (ankle) and Tom Gilbert (knee) are also on IR.
Stat Pack: Brendan Morrison
saw almost 19 minutes of action in his Blackhawks' debut and was robbed by Dubnyk on his only shot attempt. … Philippe Cornet assisted on Eberle's goal and played close to 11 minutes in his NHL debut for the Oilers.
A respite of sorts is coming for Chicago after it plays in Alberta on back-to-back nights. Following the games against Edmonton on Thursday and Calgary on Friday, the team is off for five of the next six days, with just Tuesday's date in Colorado on the schedule.