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
"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
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