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EDMONTON OILERS (21-18-3) at
MINNESOTA WILD (21-18-3)
Start Time: 6:08 p.m. MST
Television: Rogers Sportsnet West
Radio: 630 CHED, Oilers Radio Network and online at edmontonoilers.com.Today's Game Notes | Oilers/Wild Head-to-Head | Stats Comparison by Nick Conrad | edmontonoilers.com
After playing nine of their last 12 games at home, maybe The Road is what the Oilers needed to relight their hockey fire—and fire it up they did.
Despite being without the services of leading-scorer, Ales Hemsky, and playing the NHL’s second best home team in a building where they haven’t won in over 11 years, the Edmonton Oilers found a way to win. A 34-save performance from Dwayne Roloson, the first NHL goal from Steve MacIntyre and the first Oiler hattrick in three years (Ryan Smyth on Oct. 16, 2006 was the last) from Erik Cole helped seal the win for Edmonton in the first of their three-game road trip.
Tonight the Oilers (21-18-3) will face the Minnesota Wild (21-18-3), surprisingly, for the first time of the season. The divisional rivals are tied with 45 points apiece and have had a similar up-and-down season thus far.
The Wild, like the Oilers, are coming off a victory on Tuesday night. Minnesota beat the Phoenix Coyotes 6-3 on Tuesday to raise their record to 3-2-1 in January.
The Wild have not been great against their Northwest counterparts going 2-5-1 against divisional rivals this season though they’ve won eight-straight home games versus the Oilers.
Edmonton will hop a plane to Denver after the game for the second of the back-to-back set against the Colorado Avalanche.
The Oilers return home to Rexall Place on Sunday for a match against the Phoenix Coyotes, the first of a six-game homestand.
Just The Facts...
Pre-game comments from Sam Gagner, Steve Staios, Steve MacIntyre & Craig MacTavish Bob Stauffer & Louie DeBrusk preview tonight's game The Other Side: Pregame comments from Marc-Andre Bergeron Pre-Game Audio... Craig MacTavish Steve MacIntyre Steve Staios Wednesday's Video...
Ales Hemsky injury update with comments from Craig MacTavish Off Day - Lubomir Visnovsky Off Day - Dwayne Roloson Off Day - Craig MacTavish Wednesday's Audio... Ales Hemsky injury update Lubomir Visnovsky Dwayne Roloson Craig MacTavish
Hemsky injury update and off-day from Minnesota - The Oilers arrived in St. Paul, Minnesota on Wednesday after departing from Washington in the morning. After a brief stop at the hotel, the team bused over to the Xcel Energy Center for an off-day practice. Follow the link for video & audio. ...more
The Other Side - news from wild.com
Cal of the Wild - Though less burdensome now, text messages still pour in for Cal Clutterbuck after he scores, especially if a goal reaches national highlights. Wild TV caught up with the rookie Wednesday to talk about dreams coming true and the state of the Wild ...more Happy returns - Minnesota, not far removed from its recent 2-2-0 four-game road trip, opened its three-game homestand Tuesday with a 6-3 win over visiting Phoenix. The Wild scored the game's first three goals and held on for its 21st win of the season. ...more
From the Fans
Click here to read today's gameday thread on the Oilers message board.
Odds and Ends
This or That? with Gilbert Brule - Things aren't always black and white, but we made Gilbert Brule choose Option A or Option B on a variety of topics, including breakfast foods, "Tom" idols, and superheroes. Click to check out his favourites. ...more Day 5: Anderson's playoff overtime goals - Oilers great Glenn Anderson will have his jersey retired this Sunday, January 18. Every day until then, we are rolling out video and features on number nine. Day 5 looks back at Anderson's franchise record three playoff overtime goals. ...more Play Anderson trivia, win a third jersey - How good is your knowledge of Oilers great Glenn Anderson? If you play our new online Anderson trivia game and finish with a top score you could win a signed Oilers third jersey. Follow the link to play. ...more
From the Wire (AP)
Minnesota Wild goaltender Niklas Backstrom is enjoying another big season - and he hasn't even faced the Edmonton Oilers yet.
Backstrom looks to remain perfect in his career against the Oilers on Thursday as the Wild look for their eighth straight home win against their Northwest Division rivals.
Edmonton has six regulation defeats and one overtime loss in its last seven trips to the Xcel Energy Center. The Oilers have managed only nine total goals during that skid, and Backstrom is a major reason why.
The All-Star goaltender has shut out the Oilers three times in seven home starts, and is 9-0-0 with a 1.64 goals-against average in his career versus them. Backstrom, though, has been pulled in two of his last three starts against Edmonton - the only two he failed to win.
Backstrom has proven slightly more vulnerable at home this season, posting a 2.43 GAA there compared to a 1.87 GAA on the road.
Minnesota and Edmonton have identical 21-18-3 records, and both currently sit outside the top eight teams in the Western Conference for a playoff berth. The Wild and Oilers will play six times over the remainder of the season.
Backstrom has won four of his last five starts overall, including a 6-3 victory over Phoenix on Tuesday in the opener of a three-game homestand as Minnesota matched its highest scoring effort of the season. Marc-Andre Bergeron returned after missing 10 games due to a knee injury and scored 46 seconds after the opening faceoff as the Wild avoided a third straight loss.
"That was a nice welcome back. I guess I'll take it," said Bergeron, who ripped a slap shot from the left point for his fourth goal of the season.
Owen Nolan, Andrew Brunette and Cal Clutterbuck each added a goal and an assist for the Wild. Brunette snapped an 11-game personal goal drought.
"It's a good win," Minnesota coach Jacques Lemaire said. "We still have a lot of work to do before that break. So we'll try to stay focused and stay the best we can."
Former Wild goalie Dwayne Roloson has lost his last five starts at Minnesota - all against Backstrom. Roloson, though, was sharp in his second straight win for Edmonton on Tuesday, finishing with 36 saves - 19 coming in the first period - during a 5-2 win at Washington.
Erik Cole had his fifth career hat trick after Steve McIntyre opened the scoring in the first period with his first career goal.
"Rollie really held us in there in the first period until we seemed to get our bearings. And it was a great goal by Mac, a big goal. It really lifts our spirits," Cole said. "We went out in the second period with more conviction and I think we controlled the play the way we wanted to."
The Oilers have scored 35 goals in 11 games since Dec. 22, going 7-4-0 in that span. Minnesota has scored only 22 goals in the same stretch.