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MINNESOTA WILD (40-28-9) at
EDMONTON OILERS (39-33-5)
Start Time: 6:08 p.m. MDT (PPV starts at 5:45 p.m.)
Television: Molson Canadian Oilers Pay Per View
Radio: 630 CHED, Oilers Radio Network and online at edmontonoilers.com. Game Notes | Oilers/Wild Stats Comparison | Player Head-to-Head Statistics The Edmonton Oilers kick off a three-game road trip tonight, concluding a home-and-home series with the Minnesota Wild.
In the first game, the Oilers raced out to a 3-0 lead over the Wild in the game's opening 5:02 on Monday before holding on for a 5-3 victory.
LAST GAME: Oilers 5, Wild 3
In last night's action, Vancouver lost 3-2 to Calgary while Nashville defeated Columbus 3-0. The Canucks and Colorado Avalanche are both three points ahead of the Oilers with Vancouver holding a game in hand.
Tonight, the Canucks play Colorado while Edmonton meets Minnesota. The sixth place Wild are six points up on the Oilers.
This is the eighth and final meeting of the season between the Oilers and Wild. Edmonton has won twice in regulation and once in a shootout while Minnesota has won four times (once in overtime).
Just The Facts...
OILERS TO WATCH: Jarret Stoll has four goals and six points in seven games against the Wild this season while Kyle Brodziak has three goals and six points in seven outings... Sam Gagner has three goals and three assists for six points in his last four games. He has only two assists in six games versus the Wild but most of the games between the two clubs were earlier in the season before Gagner's recent stretch that has seen him net nine goals and 32 points in 29 games since January 18... Robert Nilsson leads the Oilers in plus/minus this season with a +7 rating. Curtis Glencross is +5 in 21 games while Zack Stortini is third at +4 in 61 games played... Nilsson has been a road warrior for the Oilers, ranking second on the team with 24 points in 32 games played. He's also +6 away from Rexall Place. Ales Hemsky tops the Oilers with 27 points in 31 road games.
WILD TO WATCH: On a technicality, Wild goaltender Niklas Backstrom still has an unbeaten record against the Oilers. He is 8-0-0 but in each of his last two starts, he was pulled only to have the Wild score enough goals that the game winner was allowed by Josh Harding. His numbers are still very solid against Edmonton with a 1.71 goals-against average and .928 save percentage with three shutouts in 10 appearances... Eric Belanger returned to the lineup for Minnesota on Monday after a broken toe suffered March 7 kept him out for two weeks. He netted an assist - his eighth in seven games against the Oilers this season.
ROSTER UPDATES: Edmonton – Mathieu Garon (ankle) is questionable. Geoff Sanderson (back) is doubtful. Ethan Moreau (broken leg) is out. Shawn Horcoff (shoulder) is out. Sheldon Souray (shoulder) is out. Raffi Torres (knee) is out; Minnesota – Pavol Demitra (leg) is questionable. Pierre-Marc Bouchard (flu) is probable. Kurtis Foster (leg) is out. Steve Kelly (ankle) is questionable. Petteri Nummelin (groin) is questionable.
FAST FACTS: With nine wins so far in March, it is by far the Oilers' most successful month. They had seven wins in both January and February... Edmonton's penalty killing is much better on home ice than it is on the road. At Rexall Place, it's the number one home penalty kill unit in the NHL at 88.2% whle on the road it's tied for 20th at 81.4%... Minnesota is 24-13-5 in games where they are outshot and only 14-11-3 when outshooting their opponent... The Wild are 20-3-3 when leading after one period and 4-18-3 when trailing after one... Edmonton is 1-23-2 when trailing after two periods and 23-2-2 when leading after 40 minutes... The Wild are practically unbeatable when leading after two periods at 30-0-3.
Oilers recall Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers - The Edmonton Oilers have added goaltender Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers to the roster on emergency recall from the Springfield Falcons of the American Hockey League. ...more The Other Side
AV Club - "Cancer." It's a frightening word, and Aaron Voros was 21 when he heard it from doctors in 2003. Now, Voros, who was recently nominated as the Wild's Masterton Trophy candidate, considers himself lucky (feature courtesy NHL.com) ...more A Wild world - Each Monday, Wild media relations compiles the Wild Week, which takes a look at the upcoming seven days for the club. This week, the focus is on opponents Edmonton, Vancouver and Colorado, as well as a peek at the Houston Aeros ...more From the Fans
Click here to read today's gameday thread on the Oilers message board. Odds and Ends
OIlers organization enthused by Arena Feasibility Report - Oilers President & CEO Patrick LaForge and General Manager Kevin Lowe both responded positively to the Arena Feasibility Report handed down by the City of Edmonton Tuesday morning. ...more Western Conference Playoff Race - The Edmonton Oilers moved into ninth place in the Western Conference with their win over Minnesota but are still three out of a playoff spot thanks to Colorado's win over Calgary. Nashville's win Wednesday knocked Edmonton back to 10th. Follow the link for the latest look. ...more From the Wire
Minnesota remains in a battle for home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs. The Wild's edge over the Edmonton Oilers at Xcel Energy Center may help their cause.
Losers of two straight, the Wild look to extend their six-game home winning streak against the Oilers when the Northwest Division rivals conclude a home-and-home series Wednesday night.
Minnesota (40-28-9) is in a battle atop a division in which all five teams still have a chance to finish first. At the bottom of the Northwest is Edmonton (39-33-5), which is in ninth place in the Western Conference.
The Oilers beat the Wild 5-3 on Monday night in the series opener to move within three points of eighth-place Colorado. Edmonton, though, hasn't won at Minnesota since Jan. 16, 2007, when it earned a 2-1 victory.
Minnesota, which led the Northwest by one point going into Tuesday's games, will likely need to finish atop the division to secure home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
The Wild are returning home after losing the final two games of a four-game road trip, finishing 1-2-1 on the swing. They have lost three of four overall and given up five goals in each of their last two games.
Goals from Nick Schultz, Sean Hill and Todd Fedoruk weren't enough for Minnesota on Monday. The Wild also went 0-for-4 with the man advantage for the second straight game even though Eric Belanger and Mark Parrish were back on the ice.
Belanger, with 13 goals and 24 assists in 70 games, made his return after suffering a broken toe March 7 and assisted on Hill's goal. The veteran center has not found the back of the net in seven games versus Edmonton this season, but he has eight assists in those contests.
Parrish was in the lineup after being a healthy scratch the two previous games. He recorded an assist on Schultz's goal for his first point in nine games.
The ninth-year forward has four goals and three assists in seven games this season against the Oilers, who have outscored the Wild 9-5 in winning the last two meetings.
The Oilers have scored 20 goals in their last three wins overall. Edmonton, trying to make a playoff run, has won six of seven and 12 of 15.
"The bottom line is that it could be anybody that falls," Oilers coach Craig MacTavish said of the West playoff race. "These are tough games. If somebody goes on a stretch in the last five games where they only win a game, then even the top teams are vulnerable. It's unlikely but this whole thing has smacked of unlikeliness right from the outset. Something strange is going to happen."
Cogliano, a rookie center, has 11 goals and 13 assists in his last 29 games, and three goals and an assist in his last three versus the Wild. His strong play has helped spark the Oilers' surge.
"We have a lot of young guys and they are playing unbelievable," Edmonton goaltender Dwayne Roloson said. "They are playing like veterans. It's a breath of fresh air when we come in here and they are all excited."
Minnesota is 4-2-1 against Edmonton this season. This is the teams' final regular-season meeting of 2007-08.