The Chicago Blackhawks try to secure their first Presidents' Trophy in 22 years as they visit the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday night.
The Blackhawks, who opened the season with an NHL record 24-game point streak (21-0-3), lead the league with 73 points, three ahead of the Eastern Conference-leading Pittsburgh Penguins with three games to play. The Pens have two games remaining following Tuesday night's regulation loss to the Buffalo Sabres, so Chicago can clinch the top record in the NHL with a victory tonight.
Chicago had an 11-game point streak halted on Monday, falling 3-1 to Vancouver as the Canucks clinched the Northwest Division title. The Blackhawks had been 9-0-2 in their previous 11 and fell to 17-3-2 on the road.
Daniel Carcillo scored the lone goal and Corey Crawford posted 29 stops for the Blackhawks, who were coming off a shootout loss to the Phoenix Coyotes as their quest to win the Presidents' Trophy for the first time since 1990-91 has hit a bump.
"This was our worst game of the year," said Chicago head coach Joel Quenneville. "If it wasn't for Crawford the final score would have been a lot worse than it was."
Chicago played without forward Patrick Sharp and defenseman Michal Rozsival due to upper body injuries and the two are questionable for tonight.
The Blackhawks will return home to host the Calgary Flames on Friday before ending the regular season as the top seed in the West with Saturday's road game at St. Louis.
Edmonton had its playoff drought stretched to seven straight seasons with this campaign as the club hasn't played in the postseason since a Game 7 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes in the 2006 Stanley Cup Finals.
The Oilers have lost eight of their past nine, including two straight home losses to the Pacific Division-winning Anaheim Ducks. Edmonton followed up Sunday's 3-1 loss to Anaheim with a 3-0 setback the following night.
Nikolai Khabibulin stopped 25-of-28 shots for the Oilers, who have dropped 11 straight at home against Anaheim.
Edmonton, which will visit Minnesota on Friday and then host Vancouver the following day, have had some recent success against Chicago. The Oilers have outscored the Blackhawks 29-17 in going 4-0-1 in the previous five and have won their last two at home in this series by scores of 9-2 and 8-4, respectively.
The Blackhawks hosted the Oilers on March 10 in their first game since their season-opening point streak was halted and dropped a second game in a row, 6-5.
Sam Gagner scored twice for Edmonton, while Taylor Hall and Ryan Whitney posted a goal and an assist each.
Patrick Kane had a three-point game for the Blackhawks, scoring twice and assisting on another.