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Preview: Oilers at Blackhawks

Chicago looks for sixth win in a row; Connor McDavid to play first NHL game at United Center

by Derek Van Diest / NHL.com Correspondent

OILERS (31-19-8) at BLACKHAWKS (35-17-5)

7 p.m. ET; NHLN, SN, WGN, NHL.TV 

 

Oilers team scope

Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid will play his first game at the Chicago Blackhawks. McDavid missed each game at United Center last season because of a broken clavicle. "I'm definitely excited, it's definitely a special building and the guys say it's probably the coolest building to play in, especially during that anthem when [the crowd] is going crazy," McDavid told Oilers TV on Saturday. "The atmosphere should be electric, so I'm excited about that." McDavid has 16 points (five goals, 11 assists) in his past 13 games. Edmonton is looking to extend their winning streak to three games when they begin a six-game road trip. The Oilers are tied with the Anaheim Ducks for second place in the Pacific Division, four points behind the San Jose Sharks. Edmonton is looking to take advantage of Chicago playing its first game after their six-day break. "Over the last little bit, teams coming off their break tend to have a tough time and maybe aren't as successful as the ones that are playing," coach Todd McLellan said. "It's our job to continue that trend. I don't think the task will be easy, they're a veteran team, they played a lot of hockey and their rest may have helped them more than have hurt them." Edmonton is looking for their first win at Chicago since a 6-5 victory on March 10, 2015 (0-4-1).

 

Blackhawks team scope

The Blackhawks return from their break looking to extend a five-game winning streak. Chicago is 8-3-0 in its past 11 games. "Concerns are, when we're playing a team in that situation where it's like the start of the season, coming off breaks, we're always emphasizing shooting the puck, getting traffic at the net," coach Joel Quenneville said after the morning skate Saturday. "And then our concern is being ready to play with the mental and simple approach is what we're trying to do and making sure that there's a purpose behind how we're ready to start. Especially against a quick team like this, we want to make sure we're going to be aware of their rush game and their transition game. That's why we want to be simple and ready." Chicago is second in the Central Division, seven points behind the Minnesota Wild. Goaltender Corey Crawford will start. "I got a lot of rest," Crawford said on Friday. "It's important, we played so much, not just physically, but mentally, to get away from it, relax for a little bit. That's definitely important. The guys seem refreshed and ready to go again." Captain Jonathan Toews is one point from 600 in his NHL career. Defenseman Brent Seabrook will play in his 900th League game.

 

Oilers projected lineup

Patrick Maroon -- Connor McDavid -- Jordan Eberle

Milan Lucic -- Leon Draisaitl -- Anton Slepyshev

Drake Caggiula -- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins -- Zack Kassian

Matt Hendricks -- Mark Letestu -- Iiro Pakarinen

Andrej Sekera -- Matt Benning

Oscar Klefbom -- Adam Larsson

Brandon Davidson -- Eric Gryba

Cam Talbot

Laurent Brossoit

Scratched: Jordan Oesterle

Injured: Darnell Nurse (foot), Tyler Pitlick (knee), Jujhar Khaira (upper body), Kris Russell (lower body), Benoit Pouliot (upper body)

 

Blackhawks projected lineup

Nick Schmaltz -- Jonathan Toews -- Richard Panik

Artemi Panarin -- Artem Anisimov -- Patrick Kane

Ryan Hartman -- Tanner Kero -- Marian Hossa

Dennis Rasmussen -- Marcus Kruger -- Andrew Desjardins

Duncan Keith -- Niklas Hjalmarsson

Michal Kempny -- Brent Seabrook

Brian Campbell -- Trevor van Riemsdyk

Corey Crawford

Scott Darling

Scratched: Jordin Tootoo

Injured: Michal Rozsival (lower body)

 

Status report

Russell will miss his fifth straight game but traveled with the Oilers and is expected to return to the lineup during the road trip. … Pouliot did not travel, but is expected to join Edmonton as well. … Kero and Schmaltz each were sent to Rockford of the American Hockey League earlier in the week and were recalled Thursday. … Rozsival won't play, but could return Sunday at the Buffalo Sabres, Quenneville said.

 

Who's hot

Draisaitl has 13 points (six goals, seven assists) in his past 13 games. ... Klefbom has four points (two goals, two assists) in his past two games. ... Toews has 13 points (four goals, nine assists) in his past nine games. ... Kane has nine points (four goals, five assists) in a five-game point streak. … Keith has seven points (one goal, six assists) in his past five games. ... Panik has five points (three goals, two assists) in his past three games.

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