NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Wednesday, December 23rd (All times eastern)
Edmonton Oilers (15-17-4) at Minnesota Wild (17-16-3), 7 p.m.
(Sports Network) - A pair of Northwest Division clubs trying to get back in the win column will battle tonight in St. Paul, as the Wild welcome the Edmonton Oilers to Xcel Energy Center.
The Oilers are currently last in the Northwest, but are just three points behind Minnesota in the division standings. Edmonton began December with five straight wins, but the club has since lost four in a row on the heels of that season-best winning streak.
Edmonton has been outscored by a 20-9 margin during its current slide and was slammed, 7-2, by St. Louis on Monday night. The loss to the Blues capped a four-game homestand for the Oilers, who were unable to record a single point on the residency.
Alex Steen had a goal and three assists to lead the Blues' blowout at Rexall Place. Dustin Penner and Sam Gagner scored the goals for the Oilers, while Devan Dubnyk was tagged for all seven goals on 26 shots.
"We just couldn't slow them down," the Oilers' Tom Gilbert said. "We didn't give our goalie a lot of help."
Jeff Deslauriers is expected to be back in net tonight after Dubnyk gave him a breather on Monday. Deslauriers has been Edmonton's main goaltending option since Nikolai Khabibulin went down with a back injury last month.
The Oilers, who are 7-8-2 as the guest this year, will complete a brief two- game road trip Saturday in Vancouver.
The Wild come into tonight off of back-to-back losses, marking the first time the club has dropped consecutive contest since a four-game slide from November 12-18.
Minnesota began a three-game homestand Monday against the Colorado Avalanche and were handed a 4-3 setback. Matt Hendricks scored a short-handed goal late in the second period that proved to be the game-winner for the Avs.
Cal Clutterbuck, Owen Nolan and Martin Havlat scored for Minnesota, while Niklas Backstrom made 17 saves in defeat.
"I think we were really bad to start the game and they buried their chances," Clutterbuck said. "Other than that we had some chances on the power play and five-on-five and we didn't capitalize on them."
The Wild had won four straight on home ice prior to dropping one Monday against Colorado. Minnesota, which will end its residency Saturday against St. Louis, is 10-4-1 as the host this year.
Minnesota lost a 5-2 decision in Edmonton in the only meeting this year between the clubs on October 16. The Wild have still taken five of eight overall in the series and the Oilers have lost 10 straight in St. Paul.
12/23 10:59:16 ET