The Edmonton Oilers have proven they can beat the defending Stanley Cup champions. It’s the rest of the league that is giving them trouble.
The Oilers, owners of the fewest points in the Western Conference, again look to build on an impressive road victory over the reigning champs when they visit the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday night.
Edmonton (4-6-2) has only two wins in its last 10 games, but both have come over Chicago at the United Center.
The Oilers snapped a six-game losing streak with a 7-4 victory over the Blackhawks on Oct. 29, then proceeded to return to Edmonton, where they dropped back-to-back games to Vancouver and Detroit.
The Oilers traveled back to Chicago on Sunday to open a five-game road trip and rallied to beat the Blackhawks 2-1 behind goals from Kurtis Foster(notes) and Sam Gagner(notes) 14 seconds apart in the third period.
“I don’t know what it is,” said Gagner, whose three goals this season have all come against Chicago. “Playing the defending Stanley Cup champions, it’s a great feeling to get a win.”
The Oilers, who have a West-low 10 points, improved to 2-2-2 away from Edmonton after going 2-20-2 in their final 24 road games last season.
“We’re trying to remain humble and within ourselves and not get too crazy here,” coach Tom Renney said. “We’re definitely a work in progress. We just have to make sure we understand how we did this, and how we can continue to do it moving forward.”
Edmonton denied Chicago on all three of its chances with the man advantage Sunday, and has killed 15 of 17 power plays (88.2 percent) in its four victories, compared to stopping 24 of 38 (63.2 percent) in the eight defeats.
The Oilers will look to keep up the strong defense against a Hurricanes team that is 2 for 26 on the man advantage (7.7 percent) in its last five games.
“The best teams in the league have goaltending at critical times,” Renney told the Oilers’ official website. “Khabi is all about that and completely capable of that any time.”
Khabibulin, who has started all but one game for Edmonton this season, hasn’t faced the Hurricanes since Dec. 13, 2005, when he stopped 31 shots for the Blackhawks in a 5-3 loss.
The Oilers defeated Carolina 4-2 at home Feb. 1 in the only meeting last season and also won their last game at the RBC Center, 3-1 on Nov. 1, 2008.
The Hurricanes (7-7-0) are hoping to carry some momentum from Saturday’s 3-2 win over Florida after being embarrassed one night earlier in a 7-4 road loss to the Panthers.
Skinner has five goals and seven assists to lead all rookies with 12 points.