MINNESOTA WILD (40-27-9) at
EDMONTON OILERS (38-33-5)
7:38 p.m. MDT
630 CHED, Oilers Radio Network and online at edmontonoilers.com.
Game Notes | Oilers/Wild Stats Comparison | Player Head-to-Head Statistics
The Edmonton Oilers wrap up a four-game homestand by opening a crucial home-and-home series with the Northwest Division leading Minnesota Wild.
In their last game, the Oilers overcame a surge from the Colorado Avalanche that saw their opponents turn a 4-1 Edmonton lead into a 4-4 tie in the opening five minutes of the third period. The victory proved to be an enormous one, moving the Oilers within three points of Colorado for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
The Oilers have another crack at the Avalanche this upcoming Friday but between now and then they play the Minnesota Wild twice - tonight on home ice and then Wednesday in St. Paul.
With only six games left in the regular season, tonight's game - and every game from here on out - holds a huge amount of importance as the room for error is very marginal.
This is the seventh meeting of the season between these two clubs with the Oilers winning twice (once in a shootout) and Minnesota winning four times, including once in OT.
Just The Facts...
LINEUP UPDATE (11:55 AM):
Dwayne Roloson gets the start once again with Mathieu Garon continuing to nurse a sore ankle.
OILERS TO WATCH:
Marc Pouliot continues to play well in his most recent call-up to the NHL. During his first stint, he had no points and was -6 in nine games. In his last nine games, Pouliot has a goal and five assists for six points and is +3... Jarret Stoll has played some of his best hockey this season against the Wild. Stoll has four goals and one assist for five points in six games against Minnesota. He had only 12 goals overall through his first 73 games of the season… Kyle Brodziak has also done well against Minnesota with two goals and two assists for four points in six games, tied for third on the team with Ales Hemsky
and Dustin Penner
… Fernando Pisani has only played the Wild twice all year but has two goals and three points in those games… Sam Gagner
is climbing quickly up the chart for NHL rookie scoring leaders. His three points on Tuesday night followed by his career high two goals on Saturday gives him 47 points, two back of Chicago's Jonathan Toews for fourth in the NHL.
WILD TO WATCH:
Goaltender Niklas Backstrom is playing some great hockey for the Wild of late. In his last seven starts he is 3-0-4 with a 1.64 GAA and .940 save percentage. In his last 11, he's 6-1-4 with a 1.76GAA and .939 save percentage. With 29 wins on the season, he is one behind the Wild franchise record of 30 set by Manny Fernandez in 2005-06... Backstrom is yet to officially lose a game to the Oilers with a record of 8-0-0 but the last time these two teams met he allowed two goals on 11 shots through two periods of work. Josh Harding played the third period in relief and ended up getting the loss by virtue of allowing the game-winning goal... Pierre-Marc Bouchard has always played well against the Oilers throughout his career. He has 21 points in 27 career games against the Oilers. This season, Bouchard leads all Wild skaters with eight points versus Edmonton. Eric Belanger is second on the team with seven points (all assists) in six games played but is likely to miss tonight’s contest due to injury… Mark Parrish is third with four goals and six points in six games. He had only 28 points through his first 62 games this season... Benoit Pouliot scored his first two career NHL goals on Saturday against Calgary. He has played eight games this season for the Wild.
Edmonton – Mathieu Garon (ankle) is questionable. Geoff Sanderson (back) is questionable. Ethan Moreau (broken leg) is out. Shawn Horcoff
(shoulder) is out. Sheldon Souray
(shoulder) is out. Raffi Torres (knee) is out; Minnesota – Kurtis Foster
(leg) is out. Steve Kelly (ankle) is questionable. Eric Belanger (toe) is questionable. Petteri Nummelin (groin) is questionable.
At an average age of 26.4, the Oilers are the youngest team in the NHL. Tied for second is Phoenix and Columbus at 26.5 followed by Chicago at 26.6... The Edmonton Oilers have more wins than any other team in their division against non-divisional opponents with 29. Minnesota is second with 28. Overall, the Oilers have a record of 29-20-3 outside their division. Unfortunately, all remaining games this year are versus the Northwest... The second and third periods have been interesting when involving these two teams head-to-head this season. In the second period, Minnesota has outshot Edmonton 70 to 47 but only outscored them nine to eight. In the third period, Edmonton has outshot Minnesota 65 to 46 but the Wild have outscored the Oilers six to three… Minnesota’s power play has been deadly against the Oilers this season. They have scored nine goals on 33 opportunities for a 27.3% efficiency rating. Edmonton’s power play hasn’t been quite so good, scoring four times on 27 chances (14.8%).
- Pre-game comments from Gagner, Gilbert, Nilsson, Pouliot, Roloson & MacTavish: 700K
Western Conference playoff race
- The Edmonton Oilers are very much in the playoff hunt only three points behind the Colorado Avalanche for the eighth and final playoff spot. Here's a look at the standings and remaining games for teams in contention. ...more
The Other Side
- 'I am doing well' - Saying, "I want the guys to know I'm thinking about them and rooting for them," Kurtis Foster released a statement on Saturday to update his condition and to thank so many fans and friends for their support ...more
- Wild falls to Flames - Despite two goals from Benoit Pouliot, including his first in the NHL, and Kim Johnsson, the Wild dropped to 1-1-1 on its four-game trip with a loss, 5-4 (multimedia: photo gallery | click PLAY above for full game highlights), Saturday in Calgary ...more
Item of the Game
From the Fans
Odds and Ends
- Reasoner's Awarded Goal - In the dying seconds of Saturday's game, Marty Reasoner was hooked from behind by Colorado's Paul Stastny moments before he missed the open net. As a result, he was given an awarded goal. Reasoner and Greene comment on the goal. ...more
From the Wire
The Edmonton Oilers are playing their most consistent hockey of the season - they just hope they have enough time to claim a playoff spot.
The Oilers will be trying to inch closer to postseason position on Monday when they host the Northwest Division-leading Minnesota Wild.
Edmonton (38-33-5) has won 11 of its last 14 games, including Saturday's 7-5 victory over Colorado. The Oilers are in last place in the Northwest, but have moved within three points of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Sam Gagner scored twice on Saturday as Edmonton won despite blowing a three-goal lead heading into the third period.
"I'm down to my last nerve," coach Craig MacTavish said. "It wasn't easy. It should have been a lot easier than it was. We had a great start and then we lacked a little composure in those key situations. Perhaps the youthfulness comes into play. The good thing is that we are getting the experience and still winning the games."
The Oilers scored at least seven goals for the second time in three games, including an 8-4 win over Phoenix on Tuesday, and bounced back from Thursday's 4-1 loss to Vancouver. Not counting shootout goals, Edmonton has averaged 3.57 goals during its 14-game run.
For the season, the Oilers are scoring just 2.68 goals per game.
"We had two great periods, scored a lot of goals and then the first 10 of the third they scored three right away and had the momentum," Marc Pouliot, who had a goal and an assist, told the Oilers' official team Web site. "It was a high scoring game, but we'll take it for sure."
Marty Reasoner was awarded a goal with 10 seconds left after being hooked by Paul Stastny while going in with a clear shot at an empty net.
Ales Hemsky, who leads the team with 47 assists and 67 points, had three assists after also getting three against the Coyotes on Tuesday.
"We were able to battle through the adversity and that's a big building block for the team," said goalie Dwayne Roloson, who made 29 saves in his fifth straight start. "We took a couple steps backwards in our last game but we found a way to get moving forward again."
Edmonton has dropped nine of its last 11 against Minnesota (40-27-9), going 2-8-1. However, the Oilers won 4-2 at home on Feb. 12 in the last meeting behind two goals from Kyle Brodziak.
The Wild lost 5-4 to Calgary on Saturday, trimming its division lead over the Flames to just one point. Minnesota and Edmonton are both playing the third game on a season-ending eight-game stretch of division games.
"All the teams keep on winning, it's pretty scary to watch, but if we keep winning there shouldn't be a problem," said Benoit Pouliot, who scored his first two NHL goals.
Defenseman Kim Johnsson also had two goals for Minnesota, which lost in regulation for the first time in eight games (3-1-4).