Preview: Oilers vs. Wild
MINNESOTA WILD (30-25-5) at
EDMONTON OILERS (30-26-5)
Start Time: 8:10 p.m. MST
Television: CBC (HD)
Radio: 630 CHED, Oilers Radio Network and online at edmontonoilers.com.
Today's Game Notes | Oilers/Wild Head-to-Head | Stats Comparison
LINEUP UPDATE: Marc Pouliot draws into the lineup tonight for the Oilers and will slot in on the second line... Robert Nilsson will sit this one out.
|SAINT PAUL, MN - FEBRUARY 8: Dwayne Roloson #35 of the Edmonton Oilers successfully defends his goal despite the efforts of Derek Boogaard #24 of the Minnesota Wild during the game at the Xcel Energy Center on February 8, 2009 in Saint Paul, Minnesota. (Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images)
by Nick Conrad | edmontonoilers.com
|THE ESSENTIALS FOR TONIGHT
A win and they’re in; a loss and more chaos. That’s what the Oilers have to look forward to tonight, at least, until their next game and each thereafter.
The Western Conference playoff musical chairs continue tonight when the Oilers face the Wild and if Edmonton is to be on the right side of the chart when the regular season’s music stops, a win tonight is as integral as any game all season.
Edmonton (30-26-5) will square off against Minnesota (30-24-5) for the second time this month and for the fourth of six meetings this season. The two clubs are tied with 65 points, along with Dallas and Anaheim.
The Oilers have gone 1-1-1 versus the Wild this season with their lone win coming at home on Jan. 30 while both losses were in Minnesota. Edmonton has been outscored 9-6 in those three games.
Since beating two of the best teams in the west in Detroit and Chicago, the Wild have lost two straight including a 4-1 defeat last night in Calgary. Tonight’s game will be the second on a season-long six game road trip for the Wild.
Edmonton is coming off a 1-0 shutout loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday in which Fernando Pisani made his return after missing 42 games with a broken ankle.
Tonight’s matchup is the last of a four-game homestand for Edmonton. The Oilers will kick off a four-game road trip in Nashville on Tuesday. They’ll return to Rexall Place on Mar. 12 when they host the Atlanta Thrashers.
Just The Facts...
OILERS TO WATCH:
Denis Grebeshkov's return to the Oilers lineup couldn't have come at a better time. Grebeshkov leads the Oilers in points against the Wild this season with three (all assists)... Sheldon Souray
, second among D-men in goals scored with 17, had a five-game scoring streak snapped on Thursday but will need to unload some big shots on a stingy Minnesota defence. Souray has five points in his last five games and 40 points on the season...Erik Cole has turned it on of late. He’s scored three goals in his last five games and is third on the team in goals with 15. He’s scored 2-2-4 in eight games vs. Minnesota...Ales Hemsky
has had an uncharacteristic cold spell scoring only one point in his last five games. Probability says he’ll snap out of it very soon.
WILD TO WATCH:
Mikko Koivu leads the Wild with 55 points. He’s got 16 points in 26 games vs. Edmonton but only one goal...Pierre-Marc Bouchard has fared well vs. the Oilers. He’s scored 8-19-27 in 32 games...Niklas Backstrom is 11-1 with a 1.80 GAA and a .928 save percentage in 14 games vs. Edmonton in his career.
Edmonton—Lubomir Visnovsky (torn labrum) is out. Ethan Moreau is questionable. Minnesota—Owen Nolan (fractured toe) is doubtful; Marian Gaborik (hip) is out. Derek Boogaard (suspension) is out.
The Oilers have won 30 games this season, marking the 24th time they have won 30-or-more games since joining the NHL in 1979-80. Edmonton has now won 30-or-more games for the last 13 seasons dating back to 1995-96... He leads the NHL in face-offs (1318) and is 2nd in face-offs won (710)... Ales Hemsky
played in his 400th career Oilers/NHL game on Feb. 26th versus Columbus... Hemksy played his first Oilers/NHL game on October 10, 2002 versus the Philadelphia Flyers at Rexall Place...Dustin Penner
leads the Oilers with five game-winning goals...Minnesota leads the NHL on the Penalty Kill with an 87.7 percentage.
Moreau supports Right to Play tonight
- Oilers captain Ethan Moreau is one of 28 NHLers on 25 NHL teams who is supporting the international humanitarian organization Right To Play by making personal donations based on minutes played in tonight's game against Minnesota. ...more
The Other Side - news from wild.com
- Gameday: Feb. 28, 2009 - Minnesota, which last night in Calgary fell, 4-1, traveled after the game to Edmonton, where it faces the Oilers tonight (9 p.m. CST) in Game 2 of a six-game road swing. The Wild and Oilers enter the game among four teams with 65 points ...more
- Trade Routes - The Ducks embarked Thursday morning on a trip to Western Canada that will see them play three big games at Edmonton, Vancouver and Calgary. ...more
From the Fans
Odds and Ends
- THE LINK: Inuvik, street hockey and more - In the newest episode of The Link, we take a trip to Inuvik, NWT for Hockey Day in Canada, watch Sheldon Souray take aim at one of Edmonton's radio stars, talk about Ultimate Street Hockey, and join Dwayne Roloson on After Hours. ...more
- How well do you know Tom Gilbert? - Oilers fans have gotten to know defenceman Tom Gilbert through his weekly blog on EdmontonOilers.com, but how well do his teammates perform in Gilbert 101? We tested Robert Nilsson, Ladislav Smid, and Kyle Brodziak with a few Tom-related questions, so check out their answers and final scores. ...more
From the Wire (AP)
After opening their longest road trip of the season in disappointing fashion, the Minnesota Wild may have a tough time faring any better in their next stop.
The Wild continue their six-game swing Saturday night with a visit to Edmonton, where they have lost three straight against the Oilers.
Minnesota (30-25-5) - playing a stretch of 13 out of 16 games away from St. Paul - lost 4-1 to Northwest Division-leading Calgary on Friday night in the opener of this trip.
It was a rare poor performance for Minnesota's usually-reliable defense, which has allowed the second-fewest goals in the NHL with 141. Starter Niklas Backstrom, third in the league with a 2.20 goals-against average, made 25 saves but fell to 1-1-2 in his last four games.
Defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron scored with 3:26 remaining to keep Minnesota from being shut out, but it wasn't nearly enough to prevent the loss.
"It was a tough night for us. I don't think we were even close," Backstrom said. "They scored a couple big goals in the beginning of the second and the game was over. We need to get better (Saturday). It's going to take a whole 60 minutes."
Backstrom is 11-1-0 with a 1.80 GAA in 14 career matchups against the Oilers (30-26-5). The lone loss came Jan. 30, when he yielded three goals on 11 shots before being pulled in favor of backup Josh Harding early in the second period of a 3-1 defeat.
The home team has won all three games in this season's series, and the last seven meetings overall between these clubs since the Wild's last victory in Edmonton - a 4-2 victory Nov. 15, 2007.
A Minnesota victory Saturday would end that trend, and would also create a bit of breathing room in the crowded Western Conference playoff picture, where the Wild and Oilers are currently tied with Dallas and Anaheim for seventh.
"We've got to make sure that we're ready to go," said Bergeron, who played 189 games for the Oilers from 2002-07. "If they score one or two quick goals, we can't get our head between our legs and quit. We've got to keep playing and we've got to keep playing hard."
The Oilers haven't been overwhelming opponents lately, with four losses in their last five games. They defeated Tampa Bay 5-3 on Tuesday, but got outshot 32-19 on Thursday night en route to their fifth shutout loss of the season, 1-0 to Columbus.
"That was a real disappointing loss, one of the toughest of the year so far," defenseman Sheldon Souray said after Edmonton fell three points behind the Blue Jackets. "At this point, with the situation we are in battling for a playoff spot with that team, it's just too bad we couldn't come up with a little bit better of an effort."
Edmonton did get a solid performance from former Minnesota goaltender Dwayne Roloson, who finished with 31 saves but lost for the fourth time in five starts.
Roloson, whom the Wild dealt to Edmonton in March 2006, is 6-11-3 in 20 games versus his former team.