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Oilers battle Blackhawks at 5:00 pm

by Staff Writer / Edmonton Oilers

The Edmonton Oilers play the Chicago Blackhawks tonight as they play the second game of their three-game road trip at the United Center starting at 5:00 p.m. MST.

At the end of November, the Oilers looked to be slipping a little after going winless in three straight games plus injuries to key players Ales Hemsky and Ryan Smyth. However, despite the adversity the team has come together to play some of its best hockey of the season this past week with wins over Vancouver, Carolina and Dallas.

Chicago's last loss in regulation was actually their 5-1 defeat against the Oilers back on November 24. After that defeat, the 'Hawks went on to win their next three games. They picked up points in their three games following with a pair of shootout losses and an overtime loss last night in Minnesota.

Overall, the Blackhawks have not lost in regulation under new head coach Denis Savard with a 3-0-3 record.

OILERS TO WATCH: With the injuries to Smyth and Hemsky, Jarret Stoll and Raffi Torres continue to rack up the points. Both players are on three-game scoring streaks. Stoll has four assists during that span while Torres has two goals and two assists... Dwayne Roloson hasn't allowed a goal in his last 126:19 of action. The longest shutout sequence of his career is 148:33 from March 11-18, 2002.

BLACKHAWKS TO WATCH: Martin Havlat returned to action last night and picked up right where he left off for the Blackhawks when he was injured seven games into the season. He had seven goals in his first seven games before an ankle injury sidelined him. Last night against Minnesota, he had two goals and an assist to give him nine goals and 16 points through eight games this season... Former Oilers prospect Tony Salmelainen has five points in his last seven games after picking up only one point in his first 13.

ROSTER UPDATES: Edmonton - Ethan Moreau (shoulder) is out, Ryan Smyth (thumb) is out, Ales Hemsky (shoulder is out. Chicago - Patrick Lalime (back) is out, Martin Havlat (ankle) returned last night, Michal Handzus (torn ACL) is out, Rene Bourque (neck) is out, Adrian Aucoin (groin) is questionable.

FAST FACTS: The Oilers have the league's best penalty kill both overall (90.0%) and on the road (93.7%). Meanwhile, the Blackhawks have the worst power play in the NHL at home at 10.9%... Chicago has not scored a power play goal in its last nine games, going 0-33 in that span. They are 1-for-44 in their last 11 outings.

LAST MEETING: Marty Reasoner and Petr Sykora scored a goal and an assist and Dwayne Roloson made 27 saves as the Oilers extended their season-high winning streak to five games (5-0-0; Nov. 13-24) with a 5-1 win vs Chicago. The victory gives the Oilers a perfect 4-0-0 mark on their current seven-game homestand. Jarret Stoll (PPG), Reasoner (GWG) and Raffi Torres gave the Oilers a 3-0 first period lead before Mikael Holmqvist scored the Blackhawks lone goal at 8:40 of the second period. Sykor and Marc-Andre Bergeron (PPG) added to the Oilers lead in the third period. Three Oilers - Shawn Horcoff, Jason Smith and Fernando Pisani - each had two assists on the night. Smith's first assist was the lone assist on Reasoner's GWG and it was the Oiler captain's 150th career NHL point. Roloson earned his 12th win of the season and extended his personal winning streak to a career-high six games.
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