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GAME: Edmonton Oilers (38-26-12) at Minnesota Wild (35-34-7).
TIME: Thursday, 8 p.m. EDT.
Goaltender Dwayne Roloson has seen his former teammates quite a bit since being traded to the Edmonton Oilers. Now more than ever, he needs a win against them.
Roloson is likely to make his fourth start of the season against the Minnesota Wild as the Oilers continue their battle to make the Western Conference playoffs.
Since being dealt from Minnesota, where he spent three-plus seasons before being traded to Edmonton on March 8, Roloson has made three starts against the Wild. He is 1-2 with a 2.68 goals-against average in those games, all of which were decided by one goal.
The Oilers acquired the 36-year-old Roloson in the hopes he could stabilize their goaltending position, and Edmonton needs his veteran presence over the next two weeks as it tries to earn a playoff berth. The Oilers are clinging to a one-point lead for the seventh spot, with Vancouver, Los Angeles and San Jose also vying for the final two spots.
Roloson made 33 saves in his 14th consecutive start Monday and the Oilers scored four times in the second period to beat Phoenix 7-1. Edmonton tied its highest goal total of the season in improving to 4-2 in the last six games.
"We have been tight with our sticks," Roloson said. "(Tuesday) we played like we know we can."
Sergei Samsonov and Marc-Andre Bergeron each had a goal and two assists while Radek Dvorak, Ethan Moreau and Michael Peca each added a goal and an assist for the Oilers, who were 2-for-4 on the power play.
The Oilers rallied for the victory after captain Jason Smith held a player meeting Monday following a 4-1 loss to Calgary on Saturday.
"We have been inconsistent in some of the games and it has cost us," said Smith, who had a simple message for his teammates: "Keep relaxed, be positive."
Edmonton will need to keep that mindset as it begins a four-game road trip against three teams out of playoff contention - Minnesota, Chicago, and St. Louis - before closing it at Detroit, owner of the NHL's best record.
The Oilers are 9-2-1-1 at the Xcel Energy Center, but have struggled against the Wild this season, losing five of seven meetings.
Backup goaltender Josh Harding made 22 saves in his first NHL game and stopped two more in a shootout to lead the Wild to a 5-4 win over the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday.
"It's a great feeling," said Harding, who had not played since being called up from the AHL on March 8 to replace Roloson. "It's pretty much indescribable."
Harding gave No. 1 goalie Manny Fernandez, whose strong play this season led to Roloson's departure, a much-needed rest after Fernandez played all 12 of Minnesota's games after the trade.
Wes Walz's career-high tying 18th goal early in the third period sent Tuesday's game to overtime, and Brian Rolston scored the winner in the third round of the shootout.
Rolston has five goals and five assists against the Oilers in seven games this season.
The Wild are 10 points out of the final playoff spot with six games remaining.
STANDINGS: Oilers - 88 points, 3rd place, 7 PB, Northwest Division. Wild - 77 points, 5th place, 18 PB, Northwest Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Oilers - Ryan Smyth, 33 goals; Ales Hemsky, 55 assists; Shawn Horcoff and Hemsky, 72 points; Jaroslav Spacek, 94 PIM. Wild - Marian Gaborik, 34 goals; Rolston, 44 assists and 76 points; Derek Boogaard, 148 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Oilers - Power play: 18.4 percent (84 for 457), 11th in NHL. Penalty killing: 83.7 percent (376 for 449), 12th. Wild - Power play: 17.6 percent (74 for 420), 17th. Penalty killing: 87.1 percent (350 for 402), 1st.
GOALTENDERS: Oilers - Roloson (12-22-4, 2 SO, 2.86 GAA); Ty Conklin (7-5-1, 1, 2.85). Wild - Fernandez (28-17-6, 1, 2.30); Harding (1-0-0, 3.69).
SEASON SERIES: Wild, 5-2.
LAST MEETING: March 28; Wild, 3-2. At Edmonton, Alberta, Pierre-Marc Bouchard scored the tying goal and Rolston got the winner in the third period to lead the Wild to victory.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Oilers - 20-11-6 on the road; Wild - 21-16-2 at home.
|Apr 06 '06||EDM 1 at MIN 2 - SO||B. Rolston|
|Mar 28 '06||MIN 3 at EDM 2||B. Rolston|
|Mar 14 '06||EDM 2 at MIN 1||R. Smyth|
|Mar 12 '06||EDM 3 at MIN 4||P. Bouchard|
|Feb 10 '06||MIN 6 at EDM 3||P. Dupuis|
|Dec 28 '05||MIN 4 at EDM 2||B. Rolston|
|Dec 26 '05||MIN 4 at EDM 1||M. Gaborik|
|Nov 23 '05||EDM 4 at MIN 3||E. Moreau|