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EDMONTON OILERS (16-19-3) at
MINNESOTA WILD (21-14-2)
Start Time: 6:08 p.m. MST
Television: None (only available via NHL Centre Ice)
Radio: 630 CHED, Oilers Radio Network and online at edmontonoilers.com. Game Notes | Edmonton/Minnesota Stats Comparison | Player Head-to-Head Statistics The Edmonton Oilers open a four-game road trip tonight in Saint Paul, Minnesota with their fifth meeting of the season against the Minnesota Wild.
Edmonton comes into tonight's game having dropped each of their last three games in regulation time and winless in their last four. That followed up a stretch of three straight shootout wins.
In each of the last three losses, the team had the lead at some point in the game only to relinquish it late. A goal by Doug Weight with just over three minutes to go was the decision maker on Thursday night as Edmonton fell 2-1 to Anaheim.
LAST GAME: Ducks 2, Oilers 1
Minnesota has had an up-and-down month of December. After winning four straight in the middle of the month, the Wild lost 4-1 to Detroit and 8-3 to Dallas before getting back on track with a 3-2 win in Phoenix on Thursday.
The Wild have enjoyed a lot of success against Edmonton recently. This season, they are 3-0-1 with the lone blemish being a 5-4 shootout defeat at Rexall Place. Overall, Minnesota had defeated Edmonton eight of the last nine times these two teams have met.
Just The Facts...
Pre-Game Audio... Pre-Game at Minnesota: Craig MacTavish Friday's Video
Moreau, Pisani, Souray & MacTavish talk to the media about Moreau's expected return to the lineup on Saturday vs. the Wild. 700K
Souray, Gilbert & MacTavish speak with the media following practice at Rexall Place on Friday. 700K Friday's Audio Dec 28 Off Day: Tom Gilbert
Dec 28 Off Day: Sheldon Souray
Dec 28 Off Day: Fernando Pisani
Dec 28 Off Day: Ethan Moreau
Dec 28 Off Day: Craig MacTavish
Chopping at the bit - Oilers captain Ethan Moreau will play his first game wearing the 'C' on Saturday night in Minnesota against the Wild. After missing 113 games it's been a long road back but the addition of "Chopper" is one the Oilers will be glad to have. ...more News Update...
Oilers activate Ethan Moreau from NHL Injured Reserve List - The Edmonton Oilers have activated left winger Ethan Moreau from the NHL Injured Reserve List and the team’s captain will be in the lineup for Saturday’s (December 29th) game against the Minnesota Wild. ...more More News The Other Side Tonight's Game Preview from Wild.com - Read tonight's preview including pre-game video (when available) at the Minnesota Wild official website. ...more From the Fans
Click here to read tonight's gameday thread on the Oilers message board. Odds and Ends
Vote for Hemsky, Horcoff and Souray - There's only a few days leftto vote for the 2008 NHL All-Star Game so there's still time for you to send your favourite Oilers to Atlanta. Be an All-Star fan and vote for Ales Hemsky, Shawn Horcoff and Sheldon Souray. ...more From the Wire
Solid goaltending and timely offense helped the Minnesota Wild regain their confidence after a lopsided loss. They look to build on that as they return to Xcel Energy Center to play the opener of a three-game homestand against the slumping Edmonton Oilers on Saturday.
Niklas Backstrom made 46 saves as Minnesota (21-14-2) avoided a three-game losing streak with a 3-2 victory at Phoenix on Thursday. The Wild netted all their goals on the power play one night after being held scoreless in four man-advantage chances during an 8-3 road loss to Dallas.
"This was a very big game for us, and not just getting a win," said Backstrom, who halted a two-game slump of his own. "This was a chance to get our pride and identity back."
Backstrom's effort in the net held up thanks to goals from Eric Belanger, Mark Parrish and Brian Rolston. Brent Burns also provided two assists for the Wild, who have won five of their last seven games overall.
"Coming into this game, we did not have the best feeling," said Belanger, who added two assists for his fifth multipoint game. "That's the beauty of this game that you have a chance to bounce back, and we did that."
Minnesota looks to continue this success against the Oilers (16-19-3), whom the Wild are 3-0-1 against this season and have won eight of the last nine overall.
The Wild have won five straight over the Oilers in Minnesota, where they are 12-6-0 this season, and Backstrom has been key in each victory.
Backstrom is 3-0-0 versus the Oilers this season and defeated them 4-2 on Nov. 15 in the most recent meeting. He is 7-0-0 with three shutouts - all at home - and a 0.90 goals-against average lifetime against them.
The Wild hope Marian Gaborik can regain his scoring touch after going pointless in his last two games. He has only one assist in his last three games since his NHL record-tying five goals in a Dec. 20 win over the New York Rangers.
Gaborik could break out of the slump as he has 15 goals and 19 assists for 34 points - his most against any team - in 38 games against Edmonton. He has at least a point in nine of the last 10 games versus Edmonton, totaling eight goals and seven assists in that stretch.
Gaborik had a goal and an assist, and Belanger assisted on all four goals in the Nov. 15 win over the Oilers.
Edmonton begins a four-game road trip looking to bounce back from a tough 2-1 home loss to Anaheim on Thursday, its fourth straight defeat. Marty Reasoner scored the lone goal for the Oilers, who matched a season high with their fourth consecutive loss.
Their slump - the longest since dropping six straight from March 24-April 5 - was preceded by a three-game winning run.
The Oilers, though, might welcome this trip after losing three straight at home and five of their last six there.
"It's the thing that is keeping us out of the mix right now," Oilers coach Craig MacTavish said. "Our inability to have success at home."
Edmonton could be without right wing Ales Hemsky, who missed Thursday's contest with a knee injury. Hemsky, second on the team with 29 points, underwent an MRI and is day-to-day.