Game Day

Oilers Gameday – @ Blackhawks

The Oilers will looks to build some momentum and climb the standings tonight in Chicago against the Blackhawks. It’ll be the third and final meeting between the sides this season, who met in Chicago once already this year.

The Hawks are in the second half of back-to-back games, while the Oilers had a day off on Saturday.

The Oilers don’t expect to have any lineup changes after their win on Friday night, while the Hawks are likely to go with the same unit that got them a point against the Montreal Canadiens last night .Devan Dubnyk is expected to man the goal for Edmonton, while Chicago is expected to send rookie Antti Raanta out there.

Last Games:

Edmonton: The Oilers played arguably their most exciting game of the season on Friday night when they played host to the power-house Pittsburgh Penguins. The first period saw Edmonton as the better team, but saw a scoreless tie thanks to some good goaltending on both sides.

In the second period, the Penguins would start taking over, and would get a lead thanks to a James Neal goal at the 2:09 mark. Sidney Crosby would bank a shot in off of Sam Gagner’s skates five minutes later, putting the Penguins up two. Towards the end of the period, Evgeni Malkin and Devan Dubnyk got into it, turning the tides of the game.

Just 53 seconds into the frame, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins snapped a shot past Jeff Zatkoff on the PP to make it a one goal game. Edmonton would tie things half way through the period as Taylor Hall would pounce on a rebound and tuck it home. The Penguins, thanks to a weak call on Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, would go to the PP and score seconds in, thanks to a Kris Letang wrist shot.

The Oilers wouldn’t back down, and would tie things again with 1:59 to go as Anton Belov would rip home his first career NHL goal. The Oilers would get a PP late, but couldn’t end it in regulation. Instead, the Oilers would end it on the same PP in OT, as Jordan Eberle would find Ryan Nugent-Hopkins at the side of the net to seal the 4-3 OT victory for Edmonton.

Chicago: The Blackhawks played last night in Montreal in a thriller of a game. The Habs would be the better team, by a small margin, in the first period, but the frame would end scoreless as Corey Crawford and Carey Price would play perfect frames.

The second period saw Montreal again apply the pressure, and finally take the lead. Andrei Markov would fire home a shot 12:54 in to open the scoring, while Carey Price would stop eight Blackhawks shots to keep the Habs out in front.

The Habs kept it up in the third period, out-shooting Chicago 12-5, but they simply could not put the defending champs away. The Hawks would get a little bit of pressure on Carey Price, and tie the game 9:22 in as Marian Hossa would wrist home a shot. Corey Crawford would play a spectacular third and force OT, basically stealing a point for the struggling Hawks.

In OT, the Habs would seal the deal just over a minute in, as Andrei Markov would fire home his second of the night, giving Montreal a huge win, 2-1 in OT over the defending Champs.

Last Meeting:

The Oilers and Hawks last met in Edmonton on November 25th in a game where Chicago returned an overdue favor to Edmonton. The Hawks were all over the Oilers from the start of this game, and it was never really in doubt. The Oilers would get an early PP, but a bad turnover would allow Jonathan Toews to break away and score a SHG to put the Hawks up. Pat Kane would knock home a rebound on the PP moments later, giving the Hawks a 2-0 lead.

In the second, Chicago kept the pressure going, as Johnny Oduya would score an odd goal over a minute into the frame. Andrew Shaw would make it 4-0 at the 5:49 mark, leading to Devan Dubnyk getting pulled in favor of Ilya Bryzgalov. Justin Schultz would score at the 8:08 mark with a ripper of a shot, but it wouldn’t matter.

The Hawks would add another Shaw goal in the third, and then head into cruse control to seal the 5-1 victory over the Oilers.

Players To Watch:

Edmonton: Oilers fourth liner Luke Gazdic really struggled during the first big chunk of games. The rookie has started to turn a corner however, and has been providing the Oilers with some decent play these last three games. I’ll be interested to see if he and the rest of his line can keep that up tonight against a tough Hawks team. It’ll be worth watching.

Chicago: The Blackhawks have so many weapons, but the one I’m keying in on tonight is goalie Antti Raanta. The Oilers went hard after the Finnish star this off-season, but he understandably picked the defending Champs. There is no sense crying over what could have been, but I’ll be keeping a close eye on what could have been tonight.

The Lines:

Edmonton Oilers Lines:

Taylor Hall – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Sam Gagner

Nail Yakupov – Mark Arcobello – Jordan Eberle

David Perron – Boyd Gordon – Ales Hemsky

Luke Gazdic – Ryan Smyth – Ryan Jones

Andrew Ference – Justin Schultz

Anton Belov – Jeff Petry

Nick Schultz – Martin Marincin

Devan Dubnyk

Chicago Blackhawks Lines:

Patrick Sharp – Jonathan Toews – Marian Hossa

Bryan Bickell – Marcus Krueger – Patrick Kane

Brandon Saad – Michal Handzus – Kris Versteeg

Brandon Bollig – Andrew Shaw – Ben Smith

Duncan Keith – Brent Seabrook

Niklas Hjalmarsson – Johnny Oduya

Nick Leddy – Mike Kostka

Antti Raanta

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