The Edmonton Oilers have stumbled a bit since posting six wins in a row for the first time in over nine years.
The Chicago Blackhawks seem to be clicking on all cylinders following a season-worst three-game skid.
Hoping to avoid a third consecutive defeat for the first time this season, the Oilers conclude a six-game road trip seeking a third straight win at the United Center on Sunday night.
Edmonton (9-5-2), which outscored opponents 17-6 during a six-game run Oct. 22-Nov. 3, has since dropped three of four. One night after falling 6-3 to Boston, the Oilers were shut out for the first time this season in a 3-0 loss to Detroit on Friday.
“From winning to losing, it changes so quick,” said Khabibulin, who dropped to 7-1-2. “We don’t want to panic, but we’ve got to realize what was working for us and get back to that.”
Edmonton has scored just one power-play goal in 16 opportunities on its current trip. Since opening their trek with a 3-0 win over Los Angeles, the Oilers have allowed 14 goals - just two fewer than their total through their first 11 games.
“It’s not the direction that we want to be going,” said left wing Taylor Hall(notes), who has just one assist in seven road games. “We really want to finish this road trip at .500. If we do, I think that would be a successful road trip considering the teams that we’ve played. We want to get our game going the right way, the way we were playing when we were on our win streak.”
Edmonton has won two in a row and three of five in Chicago, but has dropped nine of 12 overall between the teams.
Regrouping Sunday could prove difficult given the Blackhawks’ (10-4-3) recent offensive outburst.
After an 0-2-1 stretch from Nov. 4-8, Chicago followed up its highest scoring output of the season—a 6-3 win at Columbus on Thursday—with a 4-1 victory over Calgary on Friday.
Forward Patrick Kane(notes) tallied his team-leading 17th point with an empty-netter for his second goal in as many nights. Patrick Sharp(notes) had a season-high three assists, while Dan Carcillo(notes) and Marian Hossa(notes) added two apiece.
Also coming up big were defensemen Duncan Keith(notes) and Brent Seabrook(notes), who each notched their first goals of the season. The Blackhawks, who rank near the top of the league with 3.18 goals per game, are 3-0-0 when Keith and Seabrook register a point in the same game.
“That’s part of our game that needs to be there,” Keith said. “I think it’s important that we stay on that and help contribute.
“It’s nice to get points and things like that but the main thing is just keeping plays alive and having good gaps and supporting our forwards.”
Ray Emery(notes) spelled No. 1 goaltender Corey Crawford(notes), turning away 24 shots to improve to 3-0-1. Despite the impressive display, Crawford, who’s allowed 12 goals over his last three games, could be back in goal against the Oilers.
Crawford has gone 1-1-0 with a 1.52 goals-against average in two career starts against Edmonton.
Khabibulin, who spent four seasons in Chicago before signing with the Oilers in 2009-10, has since gone 2-2-0 with a 3.57 GAA versus his former team - surrendering four goals three times.