The Edmonton Oilers won't let the loss of their leading scorer prevent them from trying to make a run at the postseason.
The Oilers look to win their second straight game since learning Shawn Horcoff will miss the rest of the season when they face the struggling Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday night.
Edmonton (24-26-5) avoided a third consecutive loss with a 5-0 win over Calgary on Monday night, hours after Horcoff announced he will have surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder. The 29-year-old All-Star forward had 21 goals and 29 assists in 53 games in 2007-08.
While Horcoff's loss is a major blow to the Oilers, who are last in the Northwest Division and 13th in the Western Conference, they are still very much in striking distance of the eighth and final playoff spot.
"There are only two ways you can deal with losing your best player," said defenseman Steve Staios, who had a goal Monday. "One is to use it as a crutch and an excuse, and the other way is to come out and give your best."
|The Oilers will attempt to win a second-straight game after learning that Shawn Horcoff will miss the rest of the season as they face off against the Western Conference-rival Blackhawks tonight. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
Ales Hemsky and Sam Gagner each had a goal and an assist Monday, while Mathieu Garon made 24 saves for his fourth shutout of the season as the Oilers improved to 1-2-0 on their four-game homestand.
"It's a game we needed and points that we needed," said Edmonton's Jarret Stoll, who had two assists. "On the day that (Horcoff) made it official that he's gone for the season, it shows that we're not going to give up."
Hemsky, second on the team with 47 points, could have more of an offensive impact in Horcoff's absence. He has three goals and five assists in 14 career games against Chicago, including a goal in the Oilers' 3-2 shootout home win over the Blackhawks on Nov. 24.
Garon, 16-12-1 with a 2.43 goals-against average, is likely to be back in net Wednesday after his performance against Calgary. He made 31 saves in the Oilers' 3-2 loss at Chicago on Dec. 23 in the teams' most recent meeting, but is 4-2-0 with a 2.15 GAA in his career versus the Blackhawks.
Although the Oilers have lost two of three to the Blackhawks, they'll look for their fifth straight win at home in the series.
Chicago (23-24-5), making its third stop on a season-high seven-game road trip, fell 3-2 in a shootout at San Jose on Saturday. The Blackhawks are 0-3-1 since winning four in a row from Jan. 13-19.
Despite being just eight wins shy of matching last season's total, the young Blackhawks are last in the Central Division and two points behind Edmonton in the West.
Patrick Sharp and All-Star Duncan Keith had goals Saturday, while Nikolai Khabibulin made 37 saves for Chicago.
Although Khabibulin is 0-8-2 with a 3.22 GAA since winning four in a row, he could be back in goal Wednesday after a solid performance over the weekend.
"His performance was incredible," coach Denis Savard said. "I believe in him, and he's a battler. You don't win a (Stanley) Cup (by) not competing and not being as good as he is."
Khabibulin is 3-1-1 with a 1.59 GAA in his last five starts versus the Oilers.