The Blackhawks and Oilers’ previous matchups were each lopsided. The Blackhawks defeated the Oilers 7-1 in Edmonton on Nov. 22 and lost to them 5-2 in Edmonton on Jan. 9.
The Central Division is getting more and more interesting by the day. The Nashville Predators are still in first place with 89 points through 66 games, but they have lost their last five games in regulation. The St. Louis Blues are in second place with 85 points through 64 games and are followed by the Blackhawks with 81 points through 64 games, the Minnesota Wild with 77 points through 64 games and the Winnipeg Jets with 76 points through 65 games.
The Oilers have the second-worst record in the league. They are 18-36-10 with 46 points. They are on a two-game losing streak and 3-6-1 in the last 10 games.
Jonathan Toews is carrying the hot stick for the Blackhawks. He has scored in four of the last five games and has five goals and one assist during that span. He’s second on the team to Patrick Kane, who is out the remainder of the regular season, with 53 points.
The Blackhawks’ morning-skate lines were Kris Versteeg – Toews – Marian Hossa, Patrick Sharp – Antoine Vermette – Brandon Saad, Bryan Bickell – Brad Richards – Andrew Desjardins, Joakim Nordstrom – Marcus Kruger – Andrew Shaw. The defenseman pairings are expected to be Duncan Keith – David Rundblad, Kimmo Timonen – Brent Seabrook, Niklas Hjalmarsson – Michal Rozsival.
Desjardins is making his debut for the Blackhawks after being acquired from the San Jose Sharks on Monday. Vermette and Timonen are playing in their second game with the Blackhawks after being acquired last week.
Jordan Eberle leads the Oilers with 44 points, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins leads them with 16 goals.
Corey Crawford will start in net for the Blackhawks. He is 25-14-4 with a 2.29 goals-against average and .920 save percentage. Ben Scrivens will start for the Oilers. He is 12-21-7 with a 2.97 goals-against average and .896 save percentage.