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
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