Blackhawks try to stop slide in Edmonton
The return of two of Chicago's top forwards wasn't enough to halt the club's losing streak last time out and the Blackhawks will try to avoid matching their longest skid of the season tonight when they visit the Edmonton Oilers at Rexall Place.
The Blackhawks have lost three straight for the fourth time this year and another setback tonight will tie Chicago's season-high skid that lasted from Jan. 2-8. Chicago captain Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp both returned from injuries on Tuesday, but that couldn't prevent the Blackhawks from dropping an overtime decision in Vancouver.
The recent slump has dropped the Blackhawks into a tie with St. Louis for the fifth seed in the West and third in the Central Division. Chicago is still only four points behind Detroit for first in the division as well as the top seed in the West.
The Blackhawks have lost two of three against the Oilers this season and Chicago was thoroughly embarrassed the last time it visited Edmonton. The Oilers slammed the visiting Hawks by a 9-2 score back on Nov. 19, as Taylor Hall notched a hat trick. Ray Emery started in net for Chicago, but was pulled after surrendering seven goals on 27 shots.
The Oilers, who are seeded 14th out of 15 teams in the West, have won four of the last seven meetings with Chicago. The Blackhawks had won six straight in Edmonton before getting routed back in November.
The Blackhawks have lost their last four road games and were dealt an overtime setback Tuesday in Vancouver. The 3-2 setback kicked off a nine-game road trip for Chicago, which is 10-9-3 on the road this year compared to a 19-6-4 mark in the Windy City. The current swing is tied for the longest stretch of consecutive road games in franchise history.
Daniel Sedin scored 3:37 into OT to give the Canucks the win over Chicago on the first night of NHL action following the All-Star break. Jamal Mayers and Viktor Stalberg scored for the Blackhawks, while Corey Crawford made 30 saves in the loss.
"I felt like we definitely played well enough to win tonight," said Crawford. "It's definitely frustrating."
Toews had missed one game before the break with an upper-body injury and had one assist and five shots on net in Tuesday's loss. Sharp failed to record a point in his first game back from an eight-game absence due to a wrist injury.
The Oilers posted a 4-7-2 record in January, but they did win two of three to close the month. Edmonton posted a 3-2 win Tuesday against visiting Colorado, as Taylor Hall's goal early in the third period proved to be the game-winner.
"It was nice to get that one and hold on in the end. Nice to get the win," Hall said.
Eric Belanger and Jordan Eberle also lit the lamp for the Oilers, while Devan Dubnyk made 31 saves for the win.
Oilers rookie forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is close to returning from a left shoulder injury that he suffered in Chicago on Jan. 2, but he isn't expected to play tonight. The No. 1 overall pick from the 2011 draft is leading all rookies with 35 points despite missing the last 12 games.
Edmonton is 13-8-3 as the host this year and is playing the middle test of a three-game homestand tonight. The Oilers will complete the residency Saturday against Detroit.