The Chicago Blackhawks are slowly falling in the Western Conference playoff race. But Wednesday night they travel to Edmonton to play the one Western Conference team out of that race.
The Blackhawks try to even their record on the trek with by winning their sixth in a row at Rexall Place on Wednesday night.
Chicago (27-22-4) has dropped from seventh to 11th in the Western Conference by losing four of five. The Blackhawks’ only win in that stretch came in the opener of their trip – 7-4 over Columbus last Tuesday – but they’ve struggled so far in western Canada.
After falling 4-3 to Vancouver on Friday, Patrick Kane scored Chicago’s only goal in a 3-1 loss to Calgary on Monday. The Blackhawks failed to hold a one-goal lead in the third period against the Canucks and gave up the tiebreaking goal in the third to the Flames.
“We’re giving away points,” winger Troy Brouwer said. “The way we’re sliding right now, we’ve got to find a way to get out of it and get out of it real quick or we’re going to find ourselves in a real big hole.”
Facing the team with the fewest points in the NHL might help Chicago get back on track. Edmonton (16-29-8) has lost eight of nine at Rexall and 20 of 25 overall.
The Oilers are back home after snapping a four-game slide with a 4-0 victory over Nashville on Monday. After giving up a season high-tying five goals to St. Louis on Friday, Devan Dubnyk made 37 saves for his first career shutout.
“We had a tough start, but that’s my job to try and weather the storm,” Dubnyk said. “I thought we controlled the game after the first period. With a 4-0 lead, it was tough not to watch the clock a little bit in the last five minutes.”
Dubnyk gave up one goal on 16 shots after replacing Nikolai Khabibulin in a 5-0 home loss to Chicago on Nov. 17. Jonathan Toews recorded his second career hat trick and Marty Turco stopped 18 shots as the Blackhawks avoided their third loss in as many matchups with the Oilers this season.
Edmonton scored four first-period goals against Turco in a 7-4 victory Oct. 29. Kurtis Foster and Sam Gagner scored in a 14-second span of the third period to give the Oilers a 2-1 win over Chicago on Nov. 7.
Gagner had a season-high two goals in the October meeting, but it’s Dustin Penner who has sparked Edmonton offensively with four goals in five games. Penner has 10 goals in 21 games against the Blackhawks but none this season.
Toews has eight goals and five assists in his past seven meetings with Edmonton and has recorded three goals and seven assists in his last seven games.
He might not face former teammate Khabibulin, who’s lost 13 consecutive starts and has posted a 3.57 goals-against average while splitting his last four against Chicago. Dubnyk’s only start versus the Blackhawks was 5-2 on the road March 3, when Edmonton was outshot 47-14.
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