Oilers stumble into Chicago (Oct 19, 2017)
CHICAGO — Just over two weeks into the season, the Chicago Blackhawks and Edmonton Oilers have some tinkering to do.
Looking to get back on track, the Blackhawks play host to the Oilers on Thursday night.
Chicago (4-2-1) stalled after a scorching start in which it posted 15 goals in two games and outscored opponents 21-7 en route to winning three of four. However, the Blackhawks have been outscored 11-6 while dropping two of their past three.
The Blackhawks return home after falling 5-2 to the Blues in St. Louis on Wednesday. Richard Panik and Ryan Hartman scored power-play goals late in the contest after Chicago fell behind 4-0.
“Not a good first two periods for us, but obviously it’s early in the season and hopefully we can learn from that (and perform) the way we played in the third the whole game, and we should be successful more nights than not,” Chicago right winger Patrick Kane said. “The biggest thing is just kind of creating momentum. Get yourself in the game, whether it’s a hit, a shot on net or whatever it is. Control the puck a little bit and get some confidence going forward.”
Kane has 46 points (13 goals, 33 assists) in 34 career games when squaring off with Edmonton. When the top overall pick from the 2007 NHL Draft has collected at least two points in a game, Chicago is 13-1-0.
Since the start of last season, the Blackhawks are 11-3-1 in the second of back-to-back games.
Brandon Saad has been dominant at home during his second stint with Chicago. Reacquired over the summer from Columbus for Artemi Panarin, the seventh-year pro has notched five of his six goals — and three of his NHL-leading four game-winners — at United Center.
While with the Blackhawks, Saad has three goals and eight assists in nine career home games vs. the Oilers.
Corey Crawford, who stopped 28 Blues shots Wednesday, is 5-3 with a 2.25 goals-against average, a .925 save percentage and one shutout in eight career home starts against Edmonton. Backup Anton Forsberg, who has not played since making 39 saves in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Oct. 9, has never faced the Oilers nor played at United Center.
Meanwhile, Edmonton (1-4-0) has been outscored 9-1 in the first periods and 19-8 overall during a four-game skid — its longest since dropping a season-high five straight last Nov. 8-17.
“Home certainly isn’t working right now,” Oilers center Mark Letestu told the team’s official website Tuesday night. “It might be nice to have a little change of scenery.”
Chicago is the first stop on a challenging three-game swing that includes matchups in Philadelphia on Saturday and against the reigning two-time Stanley Cup champion Penguins in Pittsburgh on Tuesday.
“Obviously it’s going to be a tough trip,” Edmonton defenseman Darnell Nurse said Wednesday. “We’re playing against a lot of real gifted offensive players, so it’ll be a test as a group to play a good defensive-style game, from start to finish.”
Captain Connor McDavid is on a three-game assists streak but hasn’t scored since posting his second career hat trick to account for all of the Oilers’ goals in a season-opening shutout win over Calgary on Oct. 4. Last season’s Hart Trophy winner has three assists in two career games at United Center, and he needs one goal for 50 in his career.
Leon Draisaitl (eye/concussion) and Drake Caggiula (undisclosed) remain on injured reserve. The Oilers miss Draisaitl greatly, as he was second on the team behind McDavid with 29 goals and 48 assists for 77 points last season — all career bests.
Coach Todd McLellan said Draisaitl and Caggiula are expected to play soon.
“They’re both going to make the trip and they’re both progressing well, so that’s some good news,” he said Wednesday. “I don’t believe they’re going to play against Chicago, but there’s a chance they will participate on the road trip.”
Draisaitl has a goal and two assists in three games so far this season. Caggiula hasn’t notched a point in two games.
After backup goalie Laurent Brossoit stopped 16 shots against Carolina, the Oilers expect Cam Talbot to face Chicago.
Talbot is 1-3-0 with a 3.96 GAA, an .880 save percentage and one shutout. He set career highs with 42 wins and seven shutouts last season.
In his only road start this season, Oct. 7, the 30-year-old was lifted in the opening minute of the second period after stopping just four of seven shots in Edmonton’s 3-2 loss to Vancouver. He twice has been replaced by Brossoit (0-3-0, 3.66 GAA, .854 save percentage).