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Oilers at Blackhawks preview

Edmonton seeks first place in Pacific; Chicago can gain in wild-card race

by Brandon Cain / Independent Correspondent

OILERS (36-23-8) at BLACKHAWKS (30-28-8)

8:30 p.m. ET; ESPN+, NBCSCH, SNW, NHL.TV


The Game

The Edmonton Oilers look to move into first place in the Pacific Division when they visit the Chicago Blackhawks at United Center on Thursday.

The Oilers, who have won three straight and are 8-3-2 in their past 13 games, are two points behind the Vegas Golden Knights for the division lead. 

The Blackhawks, who have outscored opponents 13-6 during a three-game winning streak, can gain ground in the Western Conference wild-card race. Chicago trails the Vancouver Canucks, Winnipeg Jets and Arizona Coyotes by six points for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the West.


Players to watch

Oilers forward Connor McDavid has eight points (one goal, seven assists) during a three-game point streak.

Blackhawks forward Dylan Strome had three points (two goals, one assist) in a 6-2 win against the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday and has five points (two goals, three assists) in his past four games.


They said it

"We need the points as much as [the Blackhawks] do. I want our team to come out and play a real disciplined, hard road game and see if we can find a way to get our points." -- Oilers coach Dave Tippett

"You've got to be aware of who's out there and making sure that we put ourselves in the best situation to succeed, but part of that is playing everyone, and they've got to find a way to do the job, especially if [the Oilers] are going to spread [Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid] out." -- Blackhawks coach Jeremy Colliton


Oilers projected lineup

James Neal -- Connor McDavid -- Tyler Ennis

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins -- Leon Draisaitl -- Kailer Yamamoto

Josh Archibald -- Riley Sheahan -- Zack Kassian

Andreas Athanasiou -- Jujhar Khaira -- Alex Chiasson

Darnell Nurse -- Ethan Bear

Caleb Jones -- Adam Larsson

Kris Russell -- Matt Benning

Mike Smith

Mikko Koskinen

Scratched: Markus Granlund, Gaetan Haas, William Largesson, Patrick Russell

Injured: Mike Green (knee), Oscar Klefblom (shoulder), Joakim Nygard (hand)


Blackhawks projected lineup

Dominik Kubalik -- Jonathan Toews -- Brandon Saad

Alex Nylander -- Dylan Strome -- Patrick Kane

Alex DeBrincat -- Kirby Dach -- Drake Caggiula

Matthew Highmore -- David Kampf -- Ryan Carpenter

Duncan Keith -- Adam Boqvist

Olli Maatta -- Slater Koekkoek

Lucas Carlsson -- Connor Murphy

Corey Crawford

Malcolm Subban

Scratched: Nick Seeler

Injured: Calvin de Haan (right shoulder), Brent Seabrook (right shoulder/left and right hip), Andrew Shaw (concussion protocol), Zack Smith (back)


Status report

Smith will start after he took a "bit of a stinger" on his right hand during the morning skate, Tippett said. … Neal joined Ennis and McDavid on the top line. … Archibald replaced Athanasiou on the third line with Sheahan and Kassian. … Athanasiou moved to the fourth line with Chiasson and Khaira, who is in for Haas. … Crawford will make his seventh straight start. 


Stat pack

The Oilers have the best power play (29.9 percent) and second-best penalty kill (84.4 percent) in the NHL. … Athanasiou will play his 300th NHL game. … Draisaitl has nine points (six goals, three assists) during a three-game point streak.… Nugent-Hopkins has eight points (two goals, six assists) during a three-game point streak. … The Blackhawks have killed 11 straight penalties in their past three games. 

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