In the short term, the Edmonton Oilers must tighten up a porous penalty-killing unit. In the long term, they want to remind opponents that Rogers Place is a tough barn in which to play.
Edmonton seeks a split of a two-game homestand Thursday night when it faces the high-scoring Chicago Blackhawks for the second time this week.
The Oilers’ three-game winning streak ended with Tuesday’s 4-3 loss to the Minnesota Wild. Edmonton gave up three power-play goals in as many chances and has surrendered six man-advantage goals in 14 opportunities over the last three contests.
“Let’s hope it’s an anomaly,” Oilers head coach Todd McLellan said Wednesday. “We won’t know until we play a few more games, but [the] penalty kill’s been leaking a little bit lately.”
Chicago is 2-for-18 with the man advantage on the road this season.
Oilers goaltender Cam Talbot (5-4-1, 2.81 goals-against average) shouldered the blame for the loss.
“Penalty kill starts with the goalie. He’s got to be your best killer,” he said.
While Edmonton has won four of six on the road in 2018-19 — and begins a four-game swing Saturday against the Detroit Red Wings — the club looks to improve on a 2-2-1 home record.
“All the games at home have to be difficult. It doesn’t matter when we play them or we add emphasis to it,” McLellan said. “With Chicago, they’re a different type of team that present different problems. We’ll prepare, but we plan on making it difficult for every team coming in here.”
Last Sunday, the Oilers erased an early deficit and defeated the Blackhawks 2-1 at the United Center on Connor McDavid‘s goal 53 seconds into overtime. Chicago is tied with the Pittsburgh Penguins for most goals this season (43) after finishing tied for 21st in 2017-18 with 228.
“We played them pretty tough on the road. We’re going to need to bring that road game home and play another good game against them here,” Talbot said.
Chicago (6-4-3) has a quick turnaround after surrendering two third-period goals en route to its season-high third straight loss, 4-2 to the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday.
“I thought we were pretty good for 35 minutes there,” Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville told the team’s official website. “The last five minutes of the second there, we lost a little momentum in the game, but I thought we were playing how we wanted to play, and then tough to watch the third period.”
Chicago was without Patrick Kane (illness), and his availability to face Edmonton is not immediately known. Kane and David Pastrnak of the Boston Bruins are tied for most goals in the league with 11.
Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews is on the cusp of a milestone. After scoring against the Canucks, he needs one goal to become the sixth player in Original Six franchise’s history with 300 goals.
Toews has 10 career goals in Edmonton, but hasn’t scored in five straight contests there dating back to November 2014.
Chicago, which has surrendered 13 goals during its skid, is 0-1-2 in the second of back-to-back games this season.
Corey Crawford made 24 saves Wednesday, but is still rounding into form after missing nearly a calendar year because of a concussion and may not play on consecutive nights.
Cam Ward made 24 saves in the loss to the Oilers earlier in the week and is 2-3-2 with a 3.15 goals-against average, while Crawford is 4-2-0 with a 2.79 GAA during their respective careers playing in Edmonton.
McDavid has goals in five straight games for the Oilers, matching the longest streak of his career set last March 22-29. But the two-time Art Ross Trophy winner has failed to score a goal in three career home games against the Hawks.