Preview: Oilers at Wild
EDMONTON OILERS (21-18-3) at
MINNESOTA WILD (21-18-3)
Start Time: 6:08 p.m. MST
Television: Rogers Sportsnet West
Radio: 630 CHED, Oilers Radio Network and online at edmontonoilers.com.
Today's Game Notes | Oilers/Wild Head-to-Head | Stats Comparison
|Dustin Penner slips the puck past Wild goaltender Niklas Backstrom during a game last season.
Photo by Andy Devlin/Edmonton Oilers Hockey Club
by Nick Conrad | edmontonoilers.com
|THE ESSENTIALS FOR TONIGHT
After playing nine of their last 12 games at home, maybe The Road is what the Oilers needed to relight their hockey fire—and fire it up they did.
Despite being without the services of leading-scorer, Ales Hemsky
, and playing the NHL’s second best home team in a building where they haven’t won in over 11 years, the Edmonton Oilers found a way to win. A 34-save performance from Dwayne Roloson, the first NHL goal from Steve MacIntyre
and the first Oiler hattrick in three years (Ryan Smyth on Oct. 16, 2006 was the last) from Erik Cole helped seal the win for Edmonton in the first of their three-game road trip.
Tonight the Oilers (21-18-3) will face the Minnesota Wild (21-18-3), surprisingly, for the first time of the season. The divisional rivals are tied with 45 points apiece and have had a similar up-and-down season thus far.
The Wild, like the Oilers, are coming off a victory on Tuesday night. Minnesota beat the Phoenix Coyotes 6-3 on Tuesday to raise their record to 3-2-1 in January.
The Wild have not been great against their Northwest counterparts going 2-5-1 against divisional rivals this season though they’ve won eight-straight home games versus the Oilers.
Edmonton will hop a plane to Denver after the game for the second of the back-to-back set against the Colorado Avalanche.
The Oilers return home to Rexall Place on Sunday for a match against the Phoenix Coyotes, the first of a six-game homestand.
Just The Facts...
OILERS TO WATCH:
Erik Cole drew penalties, threw hits and scored a hat trick Tuesday vs. the Caps. He’ll try and continue the Cole Roll vs. the Wild against whom he has scored 2-2-4 in five games...Gilbert Brule
has a spark in his skates and has two goals and three points in two straight games.....Dustin Penner
hasn’t scored a point in five games. He’s due.
WILD TO WATCH:
Mikko Koivu leads the Wild in points with 40—11 more than the next closest player... Former Oiler, Marc-Andre Bergeron, scored a goal on Tuesday, his first game since missing 10 games with a lower body injury. This will be only his second game vs. the Oilers...Niklas Backstrom is 9-0-0- with a 1.64 GAA and a .934 save percentage vs. the Oilers. He’s 4-1 in his last five games.
(mild concussion) is questionable; Robert Nilsson (concussion) is out; Zack Stortini
(strained knee) is out; Fernando Pisani (ankle) is out. Minnesota—Marian Gaborik (hip) is out; Kurtis Foster
(fractured leg) is out.
The Wild are 21-16-8 all-time against Edmonton, tied for the most wins against any opponent (Vancouver)... The Oilers haven’t beat the Wild at Xcel Energy Center since a 2-1 decision Jan. 16, 2007...Wild forward, Owen Nolan ranks 14th among active players in goals, 26th in games played, 19th in points (823) and ninth in PPG (145).
Hemsky injury update and off-day from Minnesota
- The Oilers arrived in St. Paul, Minnesota on Wednesday after departing from Washington in the morning. After a brief stop at the hotel, the team bused over to the Xcel Energy Center for an off-day practice. Follow the link for video & audio. ...more
The Other Side - news from wild.com
- Cal of the Wild - Though less burdensome now, text messages still pour in for Cal Clutterbuck after he scores, especially if a goal reaches national highlights. Wild TV caught up with the rookie Wednesday to talk about dreams coming true and the state of the Wild ...more
- Happy returns - Minnesota, not far removed from its recent 2-2-0 four-game road trip, opened its three-game homestand Tuesday with a 6-3 win over visiting Phoenix. The Wild scored the game's first three goals and held on for its 21st win of the season. ...more
From the Fans
Odds and Ends
- This or That? with Gilbert Brule - Things aren't always black and white, but we made Gilbert Brule choose Option A or Option B on a variety of topics, including breakfast foods, "Tom" idols, and superheroes. Click to check out his favourites. ...more
- Day 5: Anderson's playoff overtime goals - Oilers great Glenn Anderson will have his jersey retired this Sunday, January 18. Every day until then, we are rolling out video and features on number nine. Day 5 looks back at Anderson's franchise record three playoff overtime goals. ...more
- Play Anderson trivia, win a third jersey - How good is your knowledge of Oilers great Glenn Anderson? If you play our new online Anderson trivia game and finish with a top score you could win a signed Oilers third jersey. Follow the link to play. ...more
From the Wire (AP)
Minnesota Wild goaltender Niklas Backstrom is enjoying another big season - and he hasn't even faced the Edmonton Oilers yet.
Backstrom looks to remain perfect in his career against the Oilers on Thursday as the Wild look for their eighth straight home win against their Northwest Division rivals.
Edmonton has six regulation defeats and one overtime loss in its last seven trips to the Xcel Energy Center. The Oilers have managed only nine total goals during that skid, and Backstrom is a major reason why.
The All-Star goaltender has shut out the Oilers three times in seven home starts, and is 9-0-0 with a 1.64 goals-against average in his career versus them. Backstrom, though, has been pulled in two of his last three starts against Edmonton - the only two he failed to win.
Backstrom has proven slightly more vulnerable at home this season, posting a 2.43 GAA there compared to a 1.87 GAA on the road.
Minnesota and Edmonton have identical 21-18-3 records, and both currently sit outside the top eight teams in the Western Conference for a playoff berth. The Wild and Oilers will play six times over the remainder of the season.
Backstrom has won four of his last five starts overall, including a 6-3 victory over Phoenix on Tuesday in the opener of a three-game homestand as Minnesota matched its highest scoring effort of the season. Marc-Andre Bergeron returned after missing 10 games due to a knee injury and scored 46 seconds after the opening faceoff as the Wild avoided a third straight loss.
"That was a nice welcome back. I guess I'll take it," said Bergeron, who ripped a slap shot from the left point for his fourth goal of the season.
Owen Nolan, Andrew Brunette and Cal Clutterbuck each added a goal and an assist for the Wild. Brunette snapped an 11-game personal goal drought.
"It's a good win," Minnesota coach Jacques Lemaire said. "We still have a lot of work to do before that break. So we'll try to stay focused and stay the best we can."
Former Wild goalie Dwayne Roloson has lost his last five starts at Minnesota - all against Backstrom. Roloson, though, was sharp in his second straight win for Edmonton on Tuesday, finishing with 36 saves - 19 coming in the first period - during a 5-2 win at Washington.
Erik Cole had his fifth career hat trick after Steve McIntyre opened the scoring in the first period with his first career goal.
"Rollie really held us in there in the first period until we seemed to get our bearings. And it was a great goal by Mac, a big goal. It really lifts our spirits," Cole said. "We went out in the second period with more conviction and I think we controlled the play the way we wanted to."
The Oilers have scored 35 goals in 11 games since Dec. 22, going 7-4-0 in that span. Minnesota has scored only 22 goals in the same stretch.