After the lockout ended, the Chicago Blackhawks signed a Stanley Cup-winning goaltender to shore up a defense that allowed a Western Conference-worst 259 goals in 2003-04.
It has not worked so far.
In August, Chicago signed Khabibulin from the defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning, giving him a four-year $28-million deal after he posted a 16-7 playoff record, including five shutouts.
Six weeks into this season, however, Khabibulin has been a disappointment.
He entered the season with 209 career wins, a 2.61 goals-against average and 35 shutouts. In 15 games with the Blackhawks, Khabibulin is 5-10-0 with a 3.71 GAA and no shutouts.
Chicago has already allowed 68 goals, and is on pace to give up 328, the most since allowing 335 during the 1988-89 season.
The Blackhawks have not defeated the Oilers since a 3-0 win on Feb. 8, 2003, in Edmonton. Overall, Chicago is 3-10-3-1 in its last 17 matchups with Edmonton.
The Blackhawks are coming off a 4-2 loss to the Los Angeles Kings on Friday. Khabibulin finished with 23 saves and Brent Seabrook and Mikael Holmqvist scored for Chicago, which went 0-for-6 on the power play.
“I don’t think you can fault him on any of the goals,” first-year Blackhawks coach Trent Yawney said. “I thought we played a solid game and didn’t get the results again.”
Edmonton continued its season-high seven-game road trip with a 3-1 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday. Ryan Smyth set up all three goals and Jussi Markkanen made 29 saves as the Oilers improved to 3-2 on the trip.
“Once we get in a rhythm, when everyone is on, we’re a tough team to beat,” said Jason Smith, who also had a goal.
Ryan Smyth has four goals and four assists on the trip, which ends Tuesday against the Colorado Avalanche. He has a goal and four assists in a three-game points streak against Chicago.
STANDINGS (through Nov. 12): Oilers - 19 points, 4th place, 3 PB, Northwest Division. Blackhawks - 12 points, 3rd place, 19 PB, Central Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Oilers - Raffi Torres, 9 goals; Shawn Horcoff and Ales Hemsky, 12 assists; Smyth and Shawn Horcoff, 16 points; Ethan Moreau, 41 PIM. Blackhawks - Pavel Vorobiev, 6 goals and 15 points; Vorobiev and Tyler Arnason, 9 assists; Matthew Barnaby, 47 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS (through Nov. 12): Oilers - Power play: 17.4 percent (19 for 109), tied for 17th in NHL. Penalty killing: 82.3 percent (93 for 113), 13th. Blackhawks - Power play: 13.6 percent (16 for 117), 25th. Penalty killing: 79.2 percent (111 for 140), 25th.
GOALTENDERS: Oilers - Markkanen (8-7-1, 0 SO, 2.74 GAA); Mike Morrison (0-0-0, 0, 0.00). Blackhawks - Khabibulin (5-10-0, 0, 3.71); Craig Anderson (1-1-0, 0, 5.12).
2003-04 SEASON SERIES: Oilers, 4-0.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Oilers - 6-6-0 on the road; Blackhawks - 3-4-0 at home.