Teammates with Chicago last season, goaltenders Cristobal Huet and Nikolai Khabibulin are expected to start against each other Wednesday night as the Edmonton Oilers visit the Blackhawks in a matchup of teams seeking three-game winning streaks.
Khabibulin helped lead the Blackhawks on a playoff run that ended in the Western Conference finals last spring, when Huet served mostly as the backup. With Huet already signed to a long-term deal, though, Chicago couldn't afford to re-sign Khabibulin, who left for Edmonton via free agency.
Khabibulin allowed four goals in each of his first two starts for the Oilers -- and suffered a 4-3 shootout loss to Calgary in his third -- but made 33 saves in a 3-2 win over Montreal on Saturday to lower his goals-against average to 3.13.
"I think from game to game, I'm feeling better," Khabibulin said. "Hopefully, I can keep building on it and try to improve my game."
Huet, meanwhile, was pulled after allowing three goals in the first 7:07 that same night against visiting Calgary. Chicago backup Antti Niemi gave up two more goals in his first 4:36, but the Blackhawks tied NHL history with what they did next.
Niemi settled down, and Chicago rallied from a 5-0 deficit for a 6-5 overtime victory with Brent Seabrook scoring 26 seconds into the extra period. The comeback from five goals down to win matched the largest in NHL history.
Patrick Sharp tallied the tying goal -- his team-leading fourth -- with 15:28 remaining in regulation. Patrick Kane had a goal and two assists for his third multipoint performance, and is tied with Sharp for the team's points lead (seven). Sharp has at least one point in all five games this season.
"A pretty amazing game," coach Joel Quenneville said. "From the worst to as good as you can get."
Like the Oilers, the Blackhawks are 3-1-1. Huet has earned only one of those wins -- a 6-5 shootout victory at home against Colorado on Saturday night. His performance Monday night raised his GAA to 3.69 and dropped his save percentage to .831.
"We know our goaltending has got to be better," Quenneville said.
Huet will face a balanced offense that's helped the Oilers earn a point in four consecutive games. Zack Stortini scored twice in the win over the Predators, making him one of six Edmonton players with two goals this season. Seven other players have tallied one goal.
The Oilers have had trouble scoring in recent trips to Chicago. Since the beginning of the 2005-06 season, the Blackhawks are 5-0-3 at home against Edmonton and have allowed two goals or fewer in all five wins.
They went 3-0-1 in the 2008-09 season series, including a 3-0 win at the United Center Oct. 22. Chicago also recorded its season high for goals in a 9-2 victory Dec. 16 in Edmonton.
Huet earned a 3-1 victory in Edmonton on Feb. 3, improving to 2-1-0 with a 1.68 GAA in three career starts against the Oilers.