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MINNESOTA WILD (9-6-2) at
EDMONTON OILERS (7-10-1)
Start Time: 7:08 p.m. MDT
Television: Rogers Sportsnet West
Radio: 630 CHED, Oilers Radio Network and online at edmontonoilers.com.
The Edmonton Oilers return home after a four-game road trip to begin its longest homestand of the season starting tonight against the Minnesota Wild.
Edmonton ended a four-game winless skid this past Saturday in Calgary with a 4-2 win over the Flames. Despite their slow start to the season, the Oilers are still within striking distance of a playoff spot in the tight Western Conference. Edmonton is two points behind L.A., Vancouver and Calgary, three points behind Dallas and four back of Nashville, Anaheim and a playoff spot.
Edmonton extended its points streak to three games last night, blanking the Vancouver Canucks 1-0 in a shootout. Ales Hemsky scored the lone shootout goal while Mathieu Garon stopped all 29 shots he faced and all three Canucks in the shootout.
LAST GAME: Oilers 1, Canucks 0 (SO) Minnesota currently sits second in the Northwest Division but is still near the top of the conference with 20 points. In their most recent outing, the Wild fell 3-2 to the Calgary Flames on Tuesday night. The Wild let a 2-1 third period lead slip away.
This is the fourth meeting of the season between Edmonton and Minnesota. The Oilers won the earlier meeting at Rexall Place by a score of 5-4 in a shootout. Minnesota won both times on home ice, 2-0 and 5-2 respectively.
Just The Facts...
Oilers recall Liam Reddox from Springfield - The Edmonton Oilers have recalled forward Liam Reddox from the Springfield Falcons and assigned goaltender Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers to their American Hockey League affiliate. ...more More News Updates
Pre-Game Audio... Pre-Game vs. Minnesota: Assistant Coach Rob Daum
Pre-Game vs. Minnesota: Jarret Stoll
The Numbers Click here for tonight's Oilers and Wild Game Notes The Other Side Shepparded into the NHL James Sheppard was kept in the NHL in part because he couldn't get a year of seasoning in Houston. That's not a problem anymore ...more Game Preview from Wild.com A look at tonight's game from the other side. ...more Item of the Game Each game, a different item is featured at The Oilers Store at Rexall Place.
Tonight's item is Mark Messier T-Shirt (Reg: $29.99, Now $19.99).
Odds and Ends Oilers Photo Blog brought to you by Bell - Edmonton Oilers Christmas Packs are back in time for the holiday season, with your chance to give the gift of hockey to the Oilers fan in your life. ...more From the Wire
The Minnesota Wild are struggling without their top line, but facing the Edmonton Oilers usually helps them solve whatever problems they're experiencing.
The Wild hope to end a five-game winless streak away from home Thursday night when they continue a four-game road trip with a visit to Edmonton.
Production from the line of Marian Gaborik, Wes Walz and Pavol Demitra was one of the keys during Minnesota's season-opening 7-0-1 run. Since then, however, the Wild are only 2-6-1 while that trio has been sidelined.
Gaborik and Demitra have both missed the last three games, including Tuesday's 3-2 loss to Calgary that dropped Minnesota (9-6-2) to 0-2 on its trip.
In total, Gaborik has been sidelined for five of the last seven games while Demitra has missed seven of the last nine. Walz, meanwhile, has been out for five games while tending to a personal matter.
Without having to deal with Gaborik and Demitra, opponents have been able to key on the line of Brian Rolston, Eric Belanger and Pierre-Marc Bouchard. Rolston has only two points in his last five games while Belanger and Bouchard have combined for five in that span.
Mikko Koivu's second goal of the game gave the Wild a 2-1 lead in the third period Tuesday night, but Jarome Iginla tied it 21 seconds later and the Flames scored the winner with 53 seconds remaining.
"We really did have the momentum there but Iginla's goal was a little unfortunate for us for sure," Rolston said after Minnesota fell to 0-4-1 in its last five road games. "Sometimes that can change a hockey game. We were still playing hard but then they get that third one."
Niklas Backstrom continues to provide the Wild with solid goaltending. He has allowed three goals or fewer in 10 of 11 starts and ranks among the league leaders with a 2.08 goals-against average.
Backstrom is 6-0-0 with three shutouts and a 0.67 GAA lifetime against the Oilers.
Minnesota is 7-0-1 in its last eight meetings with Edmonton, including 2-0-1 this season. The Wild also have at least one point in 11 of their last 12 visits to Rexall Place, going 8-1-1 with two ties.
This is the opener of a six-game homestand for the Oilers (7-10-1), losers of four of five on their home ice.
Edmonton, though, won its second straight overall with a 1-0 shootout victory Wednesday at Vancouver. Ales Hemsky scored the only goal in the shootout, and Mathieu Garon made 29 saves for his 11th career shutout.
"When you play against a good goalie like Roberto Luongo you don't want to fall behind early and give up a goal," Garon said. "I felt good in the shootout. I knew it could have went long with Roberto in net."
It was the second consecutive strong performance by Garon, who stopped 37 shots in a 4-2 victory Saturday at Calgary.
As well as Garon has played lately, Dwayne Roloson is expected to get the start Thursday against his former team.
Roloson, who played for Minnesota from 2001-04, last faced the Wild on Nov. 5 and allowed three goals on eight shots before he was pulled after one period. He is 4-8-1 with a 2.57 GAA in 13 career starts versus the Wild.