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With break looming, Oilers won't look past Blackhawks

Edmonton Oilers center Leon Draisaitl, left, and Chicago Blackhawks right wing Taylor Raddysh chase the puck during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Chicago, Thursday, Oct. 27, 2022. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh) Edmonton Oilers center Leon Draisaitl, left, and Chicago Blackhawks right wing Taylor Raddysh chase the puck during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Chicago, Thursday, Oct. 27, 2022. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
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The Edmonton Oilers received a good lesson if they tuned into what transpired when their next opponents, the Chicago Blackhawks, faced their Alberta rivals.

As his team prepared to play host to the Blackhawks on Saturday, coach Jay Woodcroft was able to remind his charges the Calgary Flames were not at their best against the Blackhawks and were humbled in a 5-1 loss to the last-place team in the Western Conference.

It is an important reminder for the Oilers in anticipation of their final game before the All-Star break.

"Their record over the last little while shows they can hurt you if you're not ready, and they can hurt you if you are ready for them," Woodcroft said of the Blackhawks. "They're a good team with good individual players. We have to be aware we have a game here before the break starts."

The Oilers will receive a boost with winger Evander Kane expected back after missing the last game.

Edmonton is coming off a disappointing home loss of its own. The Oilers saw their six-game winning streak snapped on Wednesday when they surrendered a 2-1 lead midway through the third period en route to a 3-2 overtime loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The Oilers have a 7-1-2 record in their last 10 games, but know it was a wasted opportunity while pushing to solidify a playoff spot.

"It's always disappointing when you don't get two points, I think we let one slip away there," forward Derek Ryan said. "Credit to them. They played a good game and took advantage of their opportunities. ... That being said, I don't think we played our best."

The Blackhawks snapped a two-game skid with the Calgary victory, which came without veteran captain Jonathan Toews in the lineup due to a non-COVID illness.

It's been a difficult season for the Blackhawks, but they have won four of six and are 7-3-0 in their last 10 outings. Clobbering the Flames certainly is a boost for the team's collective confidence.

"We were all cohesive," center Jason Dickinson said. "We were all on the same page and working together. That's when we're at our best. If we can get all four lines and all six (defensemen) and the goalie playing composed and playing together, we're going to be a pretty good team."

Dickinson, Boris Katchouk and Sam Lafferty scored second-period goals for the Blackhawks to break open a tied game en route to a well-deserved win. The Flames pushed frantically for a third-period comeback that never came, but the Blackhawks can take full credit for controlling the first two periods to build a 4-1 lead. Chicago has led through two periods in only 11 games.

The capper came in the third period when rookie goaltender Jaxson Stauber stopped all 18 shots he faced. Stauber has won both of his starts with Alex Stalock out due to a concussion. The Blackhawks most likely will play Petr Mrazek in Edmonton, but Stauber's performance provides more confidence for a team hoping its prospects can turn into full-time NHL players.

"He looks really solid and calm in there," coach Luke Richardson said. ... "He just makes a save and even if there's some scrambling going on, he doesn't look scrambly."

--Field Level Media

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