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Oilers marvel at Kane before facing Blackhawks

by Brian Hedger

OILERS (14-16-2) at BLACKHAWKS (17-11-4)


CHICAGO -- The Edmonton Oilers don't have Patrick Kane's point streak to worry about, but they'll still be cognizant of Kane as they face the Chicago Blackhawks at United Center on Thursday.

Kane's streak ended at 26 games in the Blackhawks' 3-0 loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday, only the third contest this season he didn't finish with at least a point.

"He can just start a new [streak] again, so it's going to be tough," Oilers left wing Taylor Hall said after Edmonton's morning skate. "It was incredible to watch, as a hockey fan. You love seeing that stuff in the game. He's a player I have a lot of respect for. He plays hard, but he plays with a ton of skill and a ton of flair, so it [was] fun to watch."

Hall wasn't the only Oilers player or coach keeping track of Kane's streak, which set marks for longest by an American-born NHL player and by a Blackhawks player.

Coach Todd McLellan and his sons followed along, too.

"Remarkable, wasn't it, in today's game?" McLellan said. "When you're watching on the outside, and not having to play against them, you're actually cheering for him a little bit, because it's good for our game. It's exciting. I have two boys that [opened] up the computer or internet every day just to see if he kept it going or not. That tells me a lot about how much of an impact he had on the fan base of the [NHL], not just his own team."

The Oilers, who went 0-1-1 in the first two games against the Blackhawks, will try to avoid losing in the finale of the season series. They will have forward Iiro Pakarinen, who left their 4-2 loss at the New York Rangers on Tuesday after blocking a shot, but forward Rob Klinkhammer won't play.

Klinkhammer, who played against New York after missing 21 games with a foot injury, appeared to re-injure it against the Rangers. He participated in the morning skate, but isn't ready to return.

Also injured are forward Benoit Pouliot (undisclosed), forward Nail Yakupov (ankle), Defenseman Oscar Klefbom (undisclosed) and rookie center Connor McDavid (clavicle).

"We're missing a whole forward line right now, and that's tough," said Hall, who leads Edmonton with 35 points (15 goals). "We've managed to get some wins and have some success without those guys, so those guys are going to start coming back and it's going to be nice to get them into the fold. Hopefully we can stay in the [Stanley Cup Playoffs] race until they're back."

Blackhawks right wing Marian Hossa, 36, didn't participate in the morning skate, but will play. It Hossa has missed three consecutive morning skates, but coach Joel Quenneville said there's no injury concern.

Forward Ryan Garbutt will return to the lineup, after being scratched the previous three contests. Rookie Brandon Mashinter will be scratched.

Chicago, coming off its second shutout loss this season, is 9-4-3 in its past 16 games.

"We're playing some good hockey," Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said. "You're not [going to] win every night. We've played some good [Central Division] teams the last week or so. We didn't quite have the energy and speed we needed to match Colorado's effort the other night. We can kind of respond from that game and be better in the same ways we have to be tonight."

Corey Crawford will start in net for Chicago. Cam Talbot will start for Edmonton.

Here are the projected lineups:


Taylor Hall - Leon Draisaitl - Teddy Purcell

Jujhar Khaira - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Jordan Eberle

Matt Hendricks - Mark Letestu - Lauri Korpikoski

Luke Gazdic - Anton Lander - Iiro Pakarinen

Darnell Nurse - Andrej Sekera

Nikita Nikitin - Justin Schultz

Brandon Davidson - Eric Gryba

Cam Talbot

Anders Nilsson

Injured: Benoit Pouliot (undisclosed), Rob Klinkhammer (foot), Connor McDavid (fractured clavicle), Nail Yakupov (ankle), Oscar Klefbom (undisclosed)

Scratched: Andrew Ference


Teuvo Teravainen - Jonathan Toews - Marian Hossa

Artemi Panarin - Artem Anisimov - Patrick Kane

Bryan Bickell - Dennis Rasmussen - Andrew Shaw

Andrew Desjardins - Marcus Kruger - Ryan Garbutt

Duncan Keith - Trevor Van Riemsdyk

Niklas Hjalmarsson - Brent Seabrook

Rob Scuderi - Michal Rozsival

Corey Crawford

Scott Darling

Injured: None

Scratched: Brandon Mashinter, David Rundblad

Status report: Mashinter filled Hossa's spot during morning line rushes for the Blackhawks ... Klinkhammer might also miss the finale of the Oilers' road trip at the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday, according to McLellan ... Pouliot had a setback in his recovery process, but McLellan said it's possible he could play prior to the Christmas break.

Who's hot: Keith has five goals and 13 points in 16 games for the Blackhawks since returning from surgery to repair a meniscal tear in his right knee ... Eberle has five goals and eight points in the past six games for Edmonton.

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