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Edmonton
Oilers
36-29-12-5
Chicago
Blackhawks
20-43-11-8

21 SOG
25 SOG
1st2nd3rdT
EDM
CHI
game preview

Edmonton Oilers vs. Chicago Blackhawks

Sunday, 01.04.2004 / 6:00 PM

Associated Press

Oilers-Blackhawks Preview

GAME: Edmonton Oilers (14-17-7-0) at Chicago Blackhawks (10-19-7-4).

TIME: Sunday, 7 p.m. EST.

The Chicago Blackhawks are developing a knack for beating the league's top teams.

Chicago now would like to start taking care of some of the NHL's worst, starting with a matchup against the Edmonton Oilers.

Steve Passmore earned his first win of the season with 31 saves and Igor Korolev snapped a tie with 7:13 left in regulation, lifting Chicago to a 2-1 victory over San Jose on Friday.

Although the Blackhawks are 14th in the Western Conference, they have at least one point in five of the last seven games (3-2-1-1). Those three wins have been against St. Louis and Detroit -- two of the league's best teams -- and San Jose -- the Pacific Divison leader.

Chicago's only two regulation losses in that seven-game span came against Pittsburgh and Columbus, owners of the worst records in the Eastern and Western Conference, respectively. The Blackhawks play their next two games against the bottom teams in the Northwest Division -- Edmonton and Minnesota.

Passmore has played very well since being recalled from the minors, allowing six goals in four games.

"You never know what's going to happen," Passmore said. "I'm glad to come up, chip in and help out."

Chicago has been helped lately by the return of two key players.

Captain and top center Alex Zhamnov returned Wednesday in a 4-3 overtime loss to Vancouver after missing 35 games due to back surgery. Defenseman Bryan Berard was back in the lineup Friday after missing 10 games with a groin injury.

Still on the Blackhawks' injured list are starting goalie Jocelyn Thibault, left wing Eric Daze and defensemen Steve McCarthy and Alexander Karpovtsev.

Last-place Edmonton opened a six-game road trip Friday with a 2-1 victory over Minnesota.

Ryan Smyth scored a short-handed goal midway through the second period and Tommy Salo stopped 24 shots, helping the Oilers to their second win in eight games (2-4-2).

Smyth is serving as team captain in place of defenseman Jason Smith, who injured his left ankle Tuesday against Minnesota and is expected to miss at least two weeks.

"Obviously it's quite an honor," Smyth said. "The guys really respect Jason and I'm wearing (the captain's 'C') for him."

Since allowing three goals in each of his first three starts following a one-month absence due to a hip injury, Salo has surrendered just nine goals in his past five games.

2003-2004 season series
DateScoreW. Goal
Mar 07 '04EDM 4 at CHI 3 - OTJ. Stoll
Jan 29 '04CHI 2 at EDM 5S. Horcoff
Jan 04 '04EDM 4 at CHI 3E. Moreau
Nov 18 '03CHI 2 at EDM 5E. Moreau
PlayerGPGAP+/-PIMPPGW
GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%
PlayerGPGAP+/-PIMPPGW
GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%