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Hossa-less Hawks host Oilers

by John Kreiser

OILERS (2-4-2) at BLACKHAWKS (6-4-1)

TV -- SNET-West; CSN-Chicago

Last 10 -- Edmonton 2-4-2; Chicago 6-4-0

Season series -- The teams are meeting for the first time this season. The Blackhawks swept the four games last season, winning all four in regulation.

Big story -- The Oilers' euphoria at winning their first two games has been dimmed by the harsh reality that they were the 30th-place team in the NHL last season for a reason. Thursday night's 3-2 shootout loss was their sixth in a row after the two opening victories, and a visit to the defending Stanley Cup champs isn't the ideal way to end a losing streak.

Team Scope:

Oilers -- Edmonton did get a point in Columbus. But what might prove to be more important is that No. 1 draft pick Taylor Hall scored his first NHL goal. Hall, who had a single assist through seven games, doubled that total when he set up Shawn Horcoff's first-period goal, then got his first goal in the NHL midway through the third period by deflecting Theo Peckham's slapper past Steve Mason.

"Definitely not the prettiest goal of my life, but I'll take it for sure," Hall said afterwards. "It was a big goal for our team as well. I've been waiting a long time and I've been asked about it a million times. I put a lot of pressure on myself just because it's out there. I definitely wanted to score tonight and I had a feeling before the game that this was going to be the night."

Blackhawks -- The Hawks' 3-1 victory on Wednesday came at a price: Star forward Marian Hossa left with an upper-body injury and is likely to miss a couple of weeks, though it won't require surgery.

The Hawks will need some help to make up for Hossa's 7 goals and 11 points.

"We need him back," forward Patrick Sharp said. "He's a big part of our team. Even if he's not scoring goals, he draws a lot of the tough checkers and does so much to help our team."

Who's hot -- Defenseman Ryan Whitney leads the Oilers with 8 points, all assists, in eight games. … Sharp has 8 goals in his last seven games.

Injury report -- Oilers defenseman Kurtis Foster is day-to-day with a groin injury and didn't play Thursday. … Hossa's injury could have been a chance for highly regarded prospect Jeremy Morin to get a callup from AHL Rockford, but he's also hurt.

Stat pack -- Edmonton's last four victories at the United Center have all come in overtime or shootouts. The Oilers' last regulation win in Chicago was 4-3 on Jan. 4, 2004. The Hawks are 7-0-1 against Edmonton in the past two seasons.

Puck drop -- Tom Renney knew that taking over the team that finished last in the overall standings in 2009-10 wasn't going to be a joyride. Eight games in, he says he's seeing progress.

"The kids are just playing," Renney said. "They understand they are getting an opportunity here and they certainly don't want to let anybody down. This is a good point in time to have them."

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