|EDM||0||0||0||0||0 (0 - 4)||2|
|MIN||0||0||0||0||1 (1 - 4)||3|
The Edmonton Oilers were already having problems offensively, and their defense quickly collapsed in a blowout loss to the defending Stanley Cup champions on Saturday.
Their struggles in St. Paul go back much further.
The Oilers will try to avoid a ninth straight loss at the Minnesota Wild's rink on Sunday, as two of the clubs in a Western Conference logjam try to earn crucial points in the playoff race.
Edmonton (26-23-3) had managed just one goal in three straight games entering Saturday's trip to Detroit, but it had more profound problems early on against the Red Wings, who scored five goals in the first period en route to an 8-3 win.
Dwayne Roloson stopped just 11 of 16 shots in the opening period before being pulled in favor of Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers.
It was the ninth time this season that an NHL team had scored eight or more goals, with the Oilers the victims on three of those occasions - including twice since the All-Star break.
"It's hard to find positives in an 8-3 loss, but a lot of guys competed really hard," Edmonton left wing Ethan Moreau said. "... It's a process. We have 30 games left. If we continue to do things right and fix areas that need to be fixed, we'll be fine."
The team's recent performances in Minnesota have been far from fine. The Oilers have been outscored 30-9 during their eight-game losing streak at the Xcel Energy Center, including a 5-1 loss there on Jan. 15.
Perhaps Edmonton can draw some momentum from its 3-1 home win over the Wild on Jan. 30, when the Oilers finally managed to beat Minnesota's Niklas Backstrom for the first time.
Backstrom entered that game with a 10-0-0 record, a 1.58 goals-against average and three shutouts in his career against Edmonton, but the Oilers chased him early in the second period after scoring three goals on their first 11 shots.
"He's played some incredible games against us," Oilers center Andrew Cogliano said. "It's good to come out and play like we did and get him pulled. It's good for our confidence for sure."
Each with 55 points, Edmonton and Minnesota (26-22-3) are among seven teams within three points of each other jockeying for the final two playoff spots in the West.
The Wild didn't help their own cause with Friday's 2-0 home loss to Nashville, as they managed just 10 total shots on goal in the first two periods and, by coach Jacques Lemaire's count, four scoring chances for the entire game.
Minnesota, which missed a chance to win its third consecutive game, hasn't won three straight since mid-November.
Backstrom, who ranks fifth in the NHL with a 2.20 GAA, said consistency within Lemaire's defensive system has been one of the Wild's main problems as they try to defend their first Northwest Division title.
"You look at the teams who are up there - San Jose, Detroit, Boston. Every night, they play the same way, it doesn't matter who the other team is," Backstrom said. "They keep on playing their own game every night. We have to learn from that and do that every night."
|Mar 29 '09||MIN 3 at EDM 2||M. Gaborik|
|Mar 22 '09||EDM 0 at MIN 3||O. Nolan|
|Feb 28 '09||MIN 2 at EDM 3||T. Gilbert|
|Feb 08 '09||EDM 2 at MIN 3 - SO||M. Koivu|
|Jan 30 '09||MIN 1 at EDM 3||E. Moreau|
|Jan 15 '09||EDM 1 at MIN 5||C. Clutterbuck|