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PREVIEW: Oilers at Blackhawks

by Marc Ciampa / Edmonton Oilers
TV: Sportsnet West

RADIO: 630 CHED & Oilers Radio Network
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Perron talks about the heavier teams, Eakins discusses putting Ryan Nugent-Hopkins up against Jonathan Toews and more from Sunday morning.



CHICAGO, IL - Coming off a thrilling 4-3 overtime come-from-behind win over the Eastern-Conference Leading Pittsburgh Penguins, the Edmonton Oilers now face off against the number two team in the West, the Chicago Blackhawks.

“We didn’t try to go and do it ourselves when we got down (2-0) and even when we were down by two goals in that game, we were firmly in the game. We were getting our chances and limiting theirs,” said Oilers head coach Dallas Eakins, noting that the team still had a lot of things to work on with respect to their play on Friday. “This morning we had a lengthy video session showing our miscomings in the game and how when we did the things we’ve been promoting or correcting, we were greatly rewarded . We want to carry that on into this game tonight.”

The Oilers are 4-2-1 in their last seven trips to the always-tough United Center in Chicago. Eakins added that the Blackhawks play a similar style to the Penguins.

“They have a certain skill set, they play the game a certain way,” he said. “It’s a team that we should be able to match up against quite well.”

Oilers lines will be the same as last game:

Hall - Nugent-Hopkins - Gagner
Yakupov - Arcobello - Eberle
Perron - Gordon - Hemsky
Gazdic - Smyth - Jones

Ference - J.Schultz
Petry - Marincin
Belov - N.Schultz


Another element of the lineup which will remain the same as Friday is Devan Dubnyk, who will be starting his second consecutive game for the first time since December 10 and 12.

“We’re going to go back with Devan,” Eakins stated, noting that he had initially planned for Bryzgalov to get the start. “As I’ve said before, your plans with goalies I shake my head at myself — why even do it? It always changes. We are going to go back with Devan. We thought he played well and thought the team played well in front of him.”

Dubnyk was excited for the opportunity.

“We’ve played these guys lots. We’ve had some success against them in years past but not this year. We’re going to have to find a way to do the things that we were doing right against Pittsburgh against just as good of an opponent. They’ve got a lot of firepower and we need to limit our turnovers. That can get you in trouble against these guys pretty fast.”

Last time the Oilers were in Chicago, the Blackhawks fired 36 shots on Dubnyk — many from prime scoring areas — in a 5-4 Blackhawks win.

“They’ve got a lot of chemistry together. It’s fun to play these games in Chicago with the atmosphere and obviously the challenges in front of you,” Dubnyk continued. “They like to score and they’re fine with winning the game 5-4 or 4-3. We need to be comfortable with doing the same thing and the reason for that is they’re extremely dangerous. We can’t be giving them the puck in the wrong spots.”

-- Marc Ciampa,


OILERS (15-27-5) at BLACKHAWKS (29-8-10)


Last 10: Edmonton 4-4-2; Chicago 4-1-5

Season series: The Chicago Blackhawks won the first two games against the Edmonton Oilers, 5-4 at United Center on Nov. 10 and 5-1 at Rexall Place on Nov. 25.

Big story: Chicago will try to complete a sweep of the season series against Edmonton, but in order to do so, the Blackhawks are going to have to turn things around following a stretch in which they have won twice in seven games (2-1-4).

The Oilers have one win against Chicago in the past five games (1-3-1).

Team Scope:

Oilers: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had two goals, including the game-winner in overtime, to lead Edmonton to a 4-3 victory against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday.

Coach Dallas Eakins matched his 20-year-old center against Sidney Crosby for much of the game.

"I thought he was motivated by it and he was able to contend with Sidney," Eakins said of Nugent-Hopkins, who also had an assist. "The size differential isn't as harsh on him, which allows him to play with him. I thought Nuge did an excellent job, as did his line and the [defensive] pairings that were out there against him."

Nugent-Hopkins has two points (one goal) and is minus-2 in two games against the Blackhawks this season. He has 13 goals and 22 assists overall.

Blackhawks: It bodes well for struggling Chicago that it will be playing the second game of a back-to-back set when it welcomes Edmonton to United Center. The Blackhawks have not lost in regulation in the second game (8-0-3) when playing on consecutive days, and they are 6-0-2 at home in that situation, including the Nov. 10 win against the Oilers.

Chicago has lost two straight and four of five.

"You have stretches (where you struggle to score). I'm sure we can say that we had a stretch where everything was going in for us, and we were getting the favorable bounces or some funny ones went in," coach Joel Quenneville said Saturday night after a 2-1 loss to the Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre. "But certainly we're playing the right way, and you know it just seems like the last few games we're a little loose in our game and support -- puck support, puck presence, puck patience and puck recognition -- is not great.

"We've got a game [Sunday], we've got a couple of games in the next three days, so let's get excited about what's going to happen next."

Backup Antti Raanta could be in goal Sunday for Chicago after Corey Crawford, who has started the past three games, took the loss in Montreal.

Andrew Shaw scored twice in the Blackhawks' 5-1 win against Edmonton on Nov. 25.

The Blackhawks reclaimed first place from the St. Louis Blues by earning a point Saturday, but they've played three more games than their longtime division rivals.

Who's hot: Oilers right wing Nail Yakupov has three goals in five games since Eakins made him a healthy scratch Dec. 31 against the Phoenix Coyotes. Right wing Jordan Eberle has two goals and three assists his past four games. … Chicago forwards Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp extended their point streaks to five games when they assisted on Marian Hossa's goal against Montreal. During the streaks, Toews has one goal and five assists; Sharp has three goals and four assists.

Injury report: Oilers defensemen Corey Potter (groin) and Philip Larsen (illness) are on injured reserve. Potter, who has missed seven games, is considered day-to-day. … Blackhawks goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin (rotator cuff) is out.

-- Sean McCullen,

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