Minnesota Wild (7-1-1: 15 points, T-1st in Western Conference, 1st in Northwest Division) at
Edmonton Oilers (3-6-0: 6 points, 13th in Western Conference, 5th in Northwest Division)
***Wild at Oilers will be broadcast on KSTC Channel 45 at 8:00 PM and can be heard on WCCO 830 AM, or online at Wild.com***
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It’s amazing how one game can change a whole stat sheet. We’ve gone on and on for the past two weeks about the Minnesota Wild’s miniscule goals against average, its superb record when leading by three goals and its astounding goal differential in the third period. Poof, those stats burned up when the Calgary Flames rallied from a three-goal deficit and scored five unanswered goals – two in the third period – to send the Wild to its first regulation loss of the season. Minnesota will look to rebound quickly when it takes on the Edmonton Oilers tonight, the second meeting of the season between the two clubs. The Wild shut out the Oilers, 2-0 back on October 10 at the Xcel Energy Center.
For the second straight game, Brian Rolston and Mark Parrish started the scoring with power play goals. Wes Walz also scored his first goal of the season before the Flames dominated the final two periods last night. Niklas Backstrom took the loss, giving up an uncharacteristic five goals on 24 shots. It was just the second time in his career that he gave up five goals.
The Oilers fell at home to the Colorado Avalanche, 4-2 on Tuesday night. Dustin Penner and former Bloomington Jefferson Jaguar Tom Gilbert scored Edmonton’s goals. Former Wild goaltender Dwayne Roloson stopped 18 of 22 shots.
After a slow start to the season, Mark Parrish is finding his game in the same place he made his career – in front of the net. Parrish scored a power play goal for the second straight game on Wednesday, putting a perfect deflection on a shot from Kim Johnsson. Parrish is still looking for his first assist this season.
Wild keys to the game
1. Moving On: Back-to-back games are never ideal for a hockey team, and this is the third set of back-to-backs in 12 days for the Wild. But after an awful collapse last night, the Wild will want nothing more than to get back into a game situation and take out some frustration on a team that it has owned in the past six games. The Wild has won both games in the second of back-to-backs this season.
2. Seriously? Two Goals: This is what the Oilers goal output looks like in the last six meetings with the Wild: 1, 0, 1 , 0, 0 and 0. The good news for Edmonton is that it will likely not face Backstrom, who has three shutouts and five wins in five games against the Oil. The bad news is Josh Harding, who has a 0.50 goals against average in two games this year and a 1-0-0 record with a shutout against Edmonton, will be in there.
3. One Wild Killer To Another: As usual, Jarome Iginla tormented the Wild last night with a goal and two assists. Bring on the next Wild killer – Geoff Sanderson. Sanderson has scored 14 goals and six assists in 16 career games against Minnesota.
Keep An Eye On
Few goaltenders are ever considered elite NHLers by the age of 23. While Josh Harding has a lot of appearances to make before earning the “elite” title, he certainly has proven he has that potential. The somewhat flashier version of Backstrom owns a 7-3-0 career record with three shutouts and a 1.44 goals against average.
Probable Wild Line Combos
Pavol Demitra is expected to miss his second straight game: