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PREVIEW: Oilers vs. Blackhawks

In today's Boston Pizza Preview, the Oilers return home to face the Chicago Blackhawks

by Paul Gazzola / Staff Writer EdmontonOilers.com

Video: OILERS TODAY | Oilers vs. Blackhawks Preview

On the heels of a 5-2 win over the Dallas Stars that saw Connor McDavid score his first career hat trick, the Oilers look to keep the momentum going back home at Rogers Place against the Chicago Blackhawks

Tonight's game can be seen across Canada on Sportsnet and Sportsnet ONE starting at 7:00 PM MST. 

Read our game preview below and check back throughout the day for quotes, videos, our morning skate report and much more. 

INSIDE THE OILERS

Read about Drake Caggiula's impressive NHL debut on Saturday and more.

>> READ MORE IN THE INSIDE THE OILERS BLOG

PRE-GAME REPORT

EDMONTON, AB - The Oilers host a streaking Chicago Blackhawks team that enters Rogers Place winners of two in a row. The Oilers, who filed a 'W' into the win column Saturday, after losing five consecutive games, are cognizant of their opponent and their dangerous play.

The team will look to build off their success in Dallas, who they beat 5-2. The lineup will remain intact, and the team will continue firing shots on net when opportunities arise. The Oilers put up five goals in a game for the first time since October 14, in that victory.

"Everyone knows the Hawks are a great team," said Oilers winger Jordan Eberle. "They have a lot of veteran guys there that know how to win and have won. For us, it's going to be much the same as in Dallas, where we have to play the right way. When we get chances we have to bear down."

Head Coach Todd McLellan also noted the build of the Blackhawks, who have a strong cast of winners on their roster that dictate the way they play night in and night out.

"They're driven by players that are wearing three Stanley Cup rings," he said. "That's who drives the team there, including the coaching staff. They're one of the best 5-on-5 teams now - maybe the best in the League right now - and we have our work cut out for us."

DRAKE'S NIGHT

Oilers rookie Drake Caggiula will also seek to build off his first taste of NHL regular season action after having a successful game in Dallas. The rookie registered his first NHL point after sailing a pass over to Tyler Pitlick on a 2-on-1. Caggiula has been all smiles ever since.

"It's one of those things where you're never going to forget it," said Caggiula. "You'll remember that pass for the rest of your life. I'll one day tell my kids about it. It's a special thing and I still can't wipe the smile off my face."

For tonight, he'll try to manage his emotions as he plays in front of his home crowd for his first time in the regular season.

"The adrenaline is definitely kicking in. You can feel your emotions and you're all excited. You've just got to make sure you settle yourself down and prepare for this game like any other game. Now that the first one is out of the way, I can focus on just playing hockey."

KEEPING THE KIDS TOGETHER

McLellan, in keeping his lineup the same, will once again ice Connor McDavid and Finnish rookie Jesse Puljujärvi together. Against Dallas, McDavid netted his first career hat-trick, while Puljujärvi tallied two assists.

"Well, they've been our most dangerous line since he's gone there, but, you could put just about anybody with Connor right now and they end up being the most dangerous line," said McLellan. That's a given but Jesse just looks a little more confident, he has a tendency to keep plays alive with Connor."

It's uncertain how long they will stay together, but for now, the kids are alright.

"We'll give a young player a chance to keep his job. He's earned the right to be there right now. If he keeps it for the next however many games we play, great, and if not we'll audition someone else there. That happens, that's the evolution of a team, and wins, and losses and games, and Jesse's got the call now, hopefully, he can keep it."

-- Paul Gazzola, edmontonoilers.com

PREVIEW

OILERS (10-8-1) vs. BLACKHAWKS (13-4-2)

TV: 7:00 p.m. MT; Televised on Sportsnet & Sportsnet 1

Head-to-Head:

This is the first of three meetings between the Oilers and Blackhawks this season and the first of two games in Edmonton. The next time these teams will faceoff is February 11th in Edmonton.

The last time these teams met was on December 17th in Edmonton, where the Blackhawks shut out the Oilers 4-0. 

Oilers team scope:

After scoring his first career goal in Dallas, on Oct. 13, 2015, Connor McDavid registered his first career hat trick in the same arena on Nov. 17, 2016 in his 64th career NHL game. Through NHL action on Nov. 19, McDavid shares first place in NHL scoring, with 22 points (8G, 14A). He shares top scoring honours with Winnipeg's Mark Scheifele and Tampa Bay's Nikita Kucherov.

After going 27 games without a goal (over the course of 363 days) defenceman Oscar Klefbom has now scored goals in consecutive games. Klefbom scored in the Oilers' 2-4 loss to Los Angeles on Nov. 17, 2016 before scoring again on Nov. 19, 2016 in a 5-2 victory over Dallas.

On Nov. 19, the Oilers removed three players from the injured list, with forward Matt Hendricks, defenceman Kris Russell and rookie forward Drake Caggiula playing against Dallas in a 5-2 win. Hendricks and Caggiula both registered assists in their first games of the season.

It marked Caggiula's first ever NHL game, earning an assist on a set-up of Tyler Pitlick's goal. Hendricks earned the other assist.

Russell played 19:45 in his first game back from injury, after missing six games. Russell also had three blocked shots and led the team with 3:48 of ice-time shorthanded.

Defencemen Brandon Davidson and Mark Fayne and forward Iiro Pakarinen remain on injured reserve. Veteran defenceman Andrew Ference has been placed on Long Term Injured Reserve (LTIR).

Blackhawks team scope:

Chicago has only lost one game in regulation in their last 14 (11-1-3) and are only two points behind Montreal for top spot in the entire League. 

The Oilers had a stretch of success against the Blackhawks, winning five of six including some by very large margins such as 9-2 and 8-4 but since that time, Chicago has won nine of 10 against Edmonton. The last Oilers win was in Edmonton by a score of 5-2 on January 9, 2015. 

Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews have both played 30 career games against the Oilers and enjoyed quite a bit of success. Kane has 12 goals and 41 points in those 30 contests. Toews has 16 goals and 33 points. Kane leads the Blackhawks this season with 20 points in 18 games. 

Duncan Keith has seven goals and 27 points in 38 career games versus the Oilers. 

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