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Oilers visit Wild after roster shake-up
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Minnesota Wild try to avoid their first losing streak of January on Thursday night as they continue a three-game homestand versus the Edmonton Oilers, who juggled their roster a day ahead of this matchup.
After dropping their final six games of December, the Wild opened the new calendar year with four consecutive wins. Following a loss to Colorado on Saturday, Minnesota rebounded the following night to blank Nashville 4-0, but then had the tables turned on them Tuesday.
Beginning their three-game stay at home, the Wild were shut out 3-0 by the Ottawa Senators behind Robin Lehner's 27 saves.
Darcy Kuemper made 23 saves versus the Predators to record his first NHL shutout in his sixth career start, but yielded all three goals on 32 shots faced against the Senators.
"Execution just wasn't really there all night long," Minnesota head coach Mike Yeo admitted. "We weren't really moving our feet, weren't attacking, weren't crisp with our passing."
Minnesota was blanked for just the third time this season and for the first time at home.
If past history is a factor, Yeo may go with Niklas Backstrom in net tonight. The 35-year-old Finn is an outstanding 25-4-1 with a 1.91 goals against average and four shutouts in 32 career starts versus the Oilers.
The Wild have won 13 of their last 16 versus the Oilers, though Edmonton did notch a 6-1 victory in Minnesota to conclude last season's series on April 26. It was just the Oilers' second victory in their past 21 in Minnesota.
Edmonton pulled off a pair of trades on Wednesday, both involving goaltenders. The Oilers first sent netminder Devan Dubnyk to the Nashville Predators in exchange for forward Matt Hendricks, then shipped a 2014 third-round pick to the Los Angeles Kings for goalie Ben Scrivens.
Dubnyk struggled to an .894 save percentage and 3.36 GAA in 32 games for the Oilers this season, including 29 starts. He also began to lose playing time when Ilya Bryzgalov was signed in November.
"It's been an unfortunate season and the team wanted to go in a different direction," Dubnyk said.
Scrivens posted a .931 save percentage and 1.97 GAA in 19 games for the Kings this season, while the veteran Hendricks had two goals and four points in 44 games with the Predators.
"It gives us an opportunity to bring in another goaltender, Ben Scrivens, who's had statistically a very good season so far," Oilers general manager Craig MacTavish told his team's website. "It gives us an opportunity to have a pretty good look at him going forward to see where he could possibly fit in on a longer-term goaltending plan."
Scrivens does get to be reunited with Edmonton coach Dallas Eakins, who coached the goaltender in the minors with the Toronto Marlies.
The Oilers will try to avoid a third consecutive loss tonight having been bested 5-2 by the Dallas Stars on Tuesday.
The Stars scored 14 seconds into the game and led 3-1 after the first period.
"It's the same old story; we can't put a full 60 minutes together for some reason," Edmonton defenseman Justin Schultz said. "We played well at the end, we were skating and using our speed and we had a lot of chances, but we've got to find a way to do that for all 60 (minutes)."
Schultz and Sam Gagner had the goals, both assisted by Taylor Hall, and Bryzgalov made 25 saves in Edmonton's seventh loss in nine games overall and fifth in a row on the road.
It is unknown if the Oilers' Ales Hemsky will be able to play tonight after sitting out the third period on Tuesday with an ankle injury.
Bryzgalov is 7-8-0 with a 2.64 GAA in 16 career meetings with the Wild, all but one of those starts.
01/16 11:51:11 ET