NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Thursday, October 13th (All times eastern)
Edmonton Oilers (1-0-0) at Minnesota Wild (1-1-1), 8 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Oilers have had three full days to prepare for tonight's road clash against the Wild. They likely needed every second given that they haven't won at Minnesota in over four years.
After picking up a big victory in its first game of the season, Edmonton looks to snap a 16-game losing streak in Minnesota at Xcel Energy Center.
The Oilers have been idle since notching a 2-1 shootout win over the Penguins on Sunday. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, the first overall pick of the 2011 draft, scored his first NHL goal with 4:55 left in regulation and both Ales Hemsky and Jordan Eberle scored in the breakaway session.
"It was really exciting, especially playing against a team that's supposed to be really good this year, Pittsburgh," Nugent-Hopkins said. "It was huge to get two points out of this game."
Devan Dubnyk ended with 33 saves through overtime and helped the Oilers survive a five-minute major to Ryan Smyth for elbowing after tying the game.
While Edmonton probably would have preferred a shorter layoff after such a big win, defenseman Cam Barker said his club made good use of the time off.
"You kind of want it to be consistent. I guess you prefer to have those days off later in the year when you are really tired but it's good for us. We can work out some kinks and work on some things and be prepared for the game on Thursday." said Barker, who spent last season and part of 2009-10 with the Wild.
"Hopefully we can get a win in Minnesota. I know it has been a long time. I was on the other side of that streak last year so hopefully we can turn that around."
Edmonton hasn't won in Minnesota since Jan. 16, 2007 and has lost six straight and 11 of its past 14 overall in this series. The Wild's current 16- game home win streak over the Oilers is the second-longest in the NHL behind the Predators' 17-game home run over the Blue Jackets.
Solving Wild goaltender Niklas Backstrom could be key to snapping the road losing streak. Backstrom has won all 14 of his home starts against the Oilers in his career, posting a 1.21 goals-against average with four shutouts and allowing more than two goals in just one of those games.
The Finland-native couldn't come up with some key saves on Tuesday versus the Senators as the Wild blew a third-period lead before Backstrom was bested three times in the shootout for a 4-3 loss.
Kyle Brodziak, Devin Setoguchi and Nick Johnson notched goals for the Wild, who led 3-1 in the third frame. Backstrom made 41 saves through overtime.
"It's disappointing," winger Dany Heatley said. "We had a two-goal lead in the third period and we have got to hang on to that."
Minnesota dropped its second straight road game after winning its season opener at home versus Columbus last Saturday and kicks off a three-game homestand tonight. The Wild are eligible to have center Pierre-Marc Bouchard back in the lineup after he wrapped his two-game suspension for cross-checking the Blue Jackets' Matt Calvert in the face in the opener.
Bouchard led the Wild in scoring versus the Oilers last season, notching two goals and seven assists.
Winger Brad Staubitz also finished up his suspension on Tuesday. He was banned for the rest of the preseason and the first three games of the regular season for an illegal hit.
10/13 11:06:49 ET