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GAME: Minnesota Wild (32-32-7) at Edmonton Oilers (36-24-12).
TIME: Tuesday, 9 p.m. EST.
The Edmonton Oilers have been mediocre against Northwest Division rivals this season, but road victories in two key games over the weekend have moved them closer to first place in the division.
The Oilers look to make it three straight wins over Northwest opponents when they host the Minnesota Wild.
Edmonton lost a pair of games to Vancouver last week, but bounced back to beat the Canucks on Saturday and Colorado Sunday. The Oilers, 14-13-1 against Northwest foes this season, trail both the Avalanche and Calgary by two points for first place in the division.
The Oilers won 4-3 on Sunday when Sergei Samsonov scored the lone shootout goal against the Avs. Edmonton goalie Dwayne Roloson kept Colorado from taking sole possession of first place by stopping Antti Laaksonen, Milan Hejduk and Joe Sakic in the shootout after making 31 saves in regulation and overtime.
"We needed this one badly," said Edmonton's Ryan Smyth, who opened the scoring in the first period with his team-best 33rd goal. "Right now two points are better than one."
The playoff hopes of the Wild are quickly slipping away with four losses in their last five games. Minnesota is 3-7-2 since the Olympic break, and trails the last playoff spot in the Western Conference by double-digit points.
"We're just a fragile team right now," Wild forward Wes Walz said. "It seems like when we have a little bit of adversity, when something goes wrong, you can feel it on the bench, it kind of sinks. Unless we get a goal or something really positive happens, it's tough. I think falling out of the playoff race takes the wind out of your sails for sure."
Manny Fernandez gave up five goals in a game for the first time all season in a 5-2 home loss to San Jose on Saturday. Fernandez also was in goal last Wednesday in a 4-2 loss to Dallas, just the third time he allowed more than three goals in a game this season.
The Wild have scored just 27 goals in 12 games since the break, with Marian Gaborik (9) and Brian Rolston (6) accounting for more than half of them. Rolston, who started slowly following the Olympics, has five goals in the last six contests.
The road team has won each of the six meetings between these teams this season.
STANDINGS: Wild - 71 points, 5th place, 15 PB, Northwest Division. Oilers - 84 points, 3rd place, 2 PB, Northwest Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Wild - Gaborik, 33 goals; Rolston, 43 assists and 73 points; Derek Boogaard, 146 PIM. Oilers - Smyth, 33 goals; Ales Hemsky, 52 assists; Shawn Horcoff, 70 points; Jaroslav Spacek, 90 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Wild - Power play: 17.6 percent (71 for 403), 19th in NHL. Penalty killing: 88.1 percent (334 for 379), 1st. Oilers - Power play: 17.7 percent (78 for 440), 18th. Penalty killing: 83.6 percent (361 for 432), 13th.
GOALTENDERS: Wild - Fernandez (26-15-6, 1 SO, 2.32 GAA); Josh Harding (no appearances). Oilers - Roloson (10-20-4, 1, 2.97); Ty Conklin (7-5-1, 1, 2.85).
SEASON SERIES: Wild, 4-2.
LAST MEETING: March 14; Oilers, 2-1. At. St. Paul, Minn., Roloson stopped 30 shots to beat his old team and earn his first win after being dealt to Edmonton on March 8.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Wild - 12-17-5 on the road; Oilers - 16-13-6 at home.
|Apr 06 '06||EDM 1 at MIN 2 - SO|
|Mar 28 '06||MIN 3 at EDM 2|
|Mar 14 '06||EDM 2 at MIN 1|
|Mar 12 '06||EDM 3 at MIN 4|
|Feb 10 '06||MIN 6 at EDM 3|
|Dec 28 '05||MIN 4 at EDM 2|
|Dec 26 '05||MIN 4 at EDM 1|
|Nov 23 '05||EDM 4 at MIN 3|