Edmonton
Oilers
32-43-7
Minnesota
Wild
48-26-8

22 SOG
29 SOG
1st2nd3rdT
EDM
MIN
game preview

Oilers-Wild Preview

Thursday, 04.05.2007 / 5:00 PM

Associated Press

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Oilers-Wild Preview
Edmonton Oilers vs. Minnesota Wild

Jockeying for position in the Western Conference playoff race, the Minnesota Wild picked up a crucial win over the Edmonton Oilers their last time out.

The Wild look to keep their slim Northwest Division title hopes alive and continue their dominance over the lowly Oilers when they host them again on Thursday.

Minnesota (46-26-8), which has already clinched a playoff berth, is in seventh place in the West, but could earn a top three seed by winning the Northwest. The Wild have two games remaining and are three points behind Vancouver, which can clinch the division title with a win over Colorado on Thursday night.

The Wild snapped a three-game losing streak with a 3-0 win over Edmonton (31-42-7) on Tuesday, reaching 100 points for the first time in the franchise's six-year history.

Mikko Koivu and Branko Radivojevic each scored power-play goals, and Minnesota has scored on 5-of-14 power-play chances in its last three games.

"It wasn't a complete game, but I think the guys are happy," said Kurtis Foster, who scored the team's first even-strength goal in four contests. "There were periods of time where we really played our game."

The Wild have won four straight over the Oilers, and are 11-4-0 against them since the start of last season after going 4-10-3 with four ties in their first four seasons against their division rivals.

Minnesota is outscoring Edmonton 14-2 during the four-game winning streak and has been outstanding on special teams in those games. The Wild have converted 33.3 percent (5-of-15) of their power-play opportunities while killing all 17 of the Oilers' chances with the man advantage.

Niklas Backstrom stopped 25 shots for his fourth shutout of the season on Tuesday, bouncing back from being pulled after allowing two goals in the first 80 seconds of last Thursday's 4-2 loss to Calgary. The rookie goaltender is 3-0-0 with a 0.67 goals-against average against Edmonton.

Right wing Marian Gaborik had two assists on Tuesday, and has six goals and four assists in six games against the Oilers this season. Gaborik, who has 29 goals in just 46 games this season, has recorded a point in 11 of his last 12 games, registering six goals and 11 assists in that span.

Edmonton dropped its fifth straight game Tuesday and eighth in a row on the road. The Oilers have lost 17 of 18 since Feb. 25, failing to score a goal in five of those games while getting outscored 65-21 in that stretch.

"Stats don't lie," left wing Raffi Torres said. "It's not like we're trying not to score. We've got to get a little grittier in front of their net and get some sticks on some pucks."

Edmonton, which lost to Carolina in seven games of the Stanley Cup finals a year ago, concludes its season at Calgary on Saturday.

2006-2007 season series
DateScoreW. Goal
Apr 05 '07EDM 0 at MIN 3M. Parrish
Apr 03 '07EDM 0 at MIN 3M. Koivu
Mar 15 '07MIN 2 at EDM 1M. Gaborik
Mar 01 '07MIN 5 at EDM 0P. Demitra
Feb 25 '07EDM 1 at MIN 4B. Burns
Jan 16 '07EDM 2 at MIN 1M. Bergeron
Jan 12 '07MIN 4 at EDM 2K. Carney
Dec 14 '06MIN 1 at EDM 3J. Stoll
PlayerGPGAP+/-PIMPPGW
GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%
PlayerGPGAP+/-PIMPPGW
GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%