Oilers look to add to Blackhawks’ woes

By Jeff Mezydlo
Stats Senior Writer

Edmonton (34-27-9) at Chicago (37-22-10), 8:30 p.m. EDT

CHICAGO (AP) — Mired in their worst stretch of the season, the
Chicago Blackhawks are trying to gain confidence anyway they

After earning a point in their last game, the Blackhawks look to
avoid extending their season-high losing streak to five games
Friday night while trying to sweep a season series from the
visiting Edmonton Oilers.

Chicago (37-22-10) lost 4-3 in overtime at Columbus on Wednesday
to fall to 3-7-2 since winning four in a row.

“Obviously, the way we’ve been playing, it’s good to get a
point,” said Chicago’s Patrick Kane, who had a goal with an
assist against the Blue Jackets. “But you want to go in and win
that game. So it’s disappointing not to get two.”

An extra point could have helped Chicago, which fell out of
fourth place — the last spot that carries home-ice advantage in
the first round — in the Western Conference after Vancouver
beat St. Louis 3-0 on Thursday to move ahead of the Blackhawks
by one point.

Returning to the United Center would normally benefit the
Blackhawks, who are 18-8-6 at home, but they have struggled
there of late. Chicago has lost two in a row and three of its
last four on home ice.

“The confidence is a little bit off,” Blackhawks coach Joel
Quenneville said. “We stemmed a little bit of the flow going
against us. (But) we’ve got to (start) winning and feeling a
little more confident at critical times of games.”

Facing Edmonton (34-27-9) could give the Blackhawks some
confidence heading into this contest.

Though the Oilers are seventh in the West, they’ve been
outscored 15-3 in losing the previous three games to the
Blackhawks. Chicago hasn’t swept a series from the Oilers since

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Kane has a goal and three assists against Edmonton this season.

Jonathan Toews had a goal with an assist and Cristobal Huet made
24 saves Wednesday for the Blackhawks, who haven’t lost five in
a row since Jan. 22-Feb. 6, 2008.

Nikolai Khabibulin made 27 in a 3-2 loss at New Jersey on
Tuesday and is likely to be in goal looking for a fourth
straight victory over Edmonton. Khabibulin is 17-7-5 with a 2.45
goals-against average and 13-11-2 with a 2.61 GAA lifetime
versus the Oilers.

He made 23 saves in a 3-0 home win over Edmonton on Oct. 22 for
his only shutout of the season.

After losing three straight games in overtime and beating St.
Louis 2-1 in a shootout on Tuesday, Edmonton routed Colorado 8-1
on Thursday.

Sam Gagner had three goals with an assist, and Ales Kotalik
added a goal with three assists in the Oilers’ highest-scoring
game of the season.

“Obviously a pretty good feeling, especially when it comes in a
win and we’re fighting for points,” said Gagner, who has four
goals and four assists in his last five contests. “We’ve been on
the wrong side of (a blowout), so it’s a pretty good feeling.”

One of those blowouts was a 9-2 defeat at home to Chicago on
Dec. 16.

Dwayne Roloson made 26 saves in his franchise-record 26th
straight start Thursday to improve to 25-17-9 with a 2.72 GAA.
He could be in net versus the Blackhawks, against whom he is
10-7-0 with two ties and a 2.50 GAA.