As if Pierre-Marc Bouchard hasn’t tormented the Edmonton Oilers enough with his offense, he’s not back to intimidate them with his “take no prisoners” mentality. The second coming of Ogie Oglethorpe is back in the Minnesota Wild lineup tonight, just in time to face the team he’s feasted on over his career. “Butch” sat out the last two Wild games after serving a two-game suspension for a highsticking incident in the Wild’s home opener. Tonight, he’ll use his stick for scoring purposes as the Wild opens up a three-game homestand.
Minnesota returns to Xcel Energy Center after falling to the Ottawa Senators in a 4-3 shootout on Tuesday night. Goals by Kyle Brodziak, Devin Setoguchi and Nick Johnson provided the road club with a 3-1 lead, but the Senators charged back in the third period with two goals, and finally won with three tallies in the shootout. Niklas Backstrom was brilliant through regulation and overtime, stopping 41 shots.
The Oilers pulled out a 2-1 shootout win in their season opener against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, the first overall pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, scored in his debut. Jordan Eberle and Ales Hemsky came through in the shootout. Devan Dubnyk was nearly flawless in goal, stopping 33 shots.
Great seats are available for tonight's matchup against the Oilers and the top overall picks from the last two Drafts. Lower level end seats can be had for as low as $79.
Wild vs. Oilers will be broadcast locally in high definition on Fox Sports North at 7:00 PM. The game can be heard on KFAN 100.3 FM or online at Wild.com.
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The Wild “Better Halves” are once again doing their thing in the community. Tonight, they’ll be hosting the PJ’s for Patients Drive. Fans will be asked to donate new, unworn youth pajamas for local pediatric cancer patients. All those who donate will receive one Buy One Get One Free Ticket Voucher for a future 2011-12 home game.
If you’re not going, or even if you are, make sure you take part in the Wild’s Tweet Up Contest. Fans will be asked to tweet their comments during the game with the hashtag #wildtweetup. The best comments will appear in the Wild.com live in-game commentary tonight, and the prize for each one will be two tickets for a suite to the Wild vs. Red Wings game on Saturday, October 15. Yes, there will be food in the suite. For more on the Wild's Tweet Up Contest click here.
Back in the early years, no team took care of the Wild better than the Oilers. In fact, the last Western Conference team the Wild ever defeated was the Oilers, and it took until the team’s third year of existence.
But like eating potato chips, once the Wild got that first taste of victory over Edmonton, they couldn’t stop themselves. Minnesota has taken over the all-time series, especially in recent years. Last year, the Wild outscored the Oil 23-9 in sweeping the six-game series. Minnesota has won the last seven overall meetings and the last 16 played at Xcel Energy Center. The last Oilers win in St. Paul came in January of 2007.
Say all you want about Backstrom and his struggles in the shootout, but the Ottawa game doesn’t make it to a shootout without his brilliance in net. It took 44 shots to get three by him for the first time this season.
Like Bouchard, Backstrom’s eyes light up when he sees the blue and orange on the other end of the rink. He’s never lost to Edmonton at home, going 14-0-0, which is the most home wins without a loss against any team for any active goaltender. Tomas Vokoun is the closest with a 10-0-0 record against the Islanders.
Nobody is claiming the Wild would have swept its two-game road trip if Bouchard had been in the lineup. But it wouldn’t have hurt the Wild’s chances.
Bouchard returns to face a team he’s torched for 38 points (10-28=38) in 38 contests. He posted two goals and seven assists last year alone against the Oilers.
While Bouchard was surely missed on Tuesday, the presence the Wild may have lacked more was that of Brad Staubitz. With Ottawa tough guy Chris Neil causing problems all night, the Wild really didn’t have a player that could neutralize him. Matt Kassian, who was impressive in the game, tried to goad Neil into a fight, but it didn’t work, and Kassian didn’t see enough ice time to confront Neil enough. Staubitz brings that element of skating and toughness that could serve the Wild well as he returns tonight from suspension.
The return of Staubitz and Bouchard means two players have to come out of the lineup:
"I’m 0-0 against Edmonton so far in this building in the regular season, so I’ve really paid no attention to it whatsoever."
-- Mike Yeo on the Wild's success against the Oilers
D Tom Gilbert was a former standout at Bloomington Jefferson. D Andy Sutton was a member of the Wild’s inaugural team. D Cam Barker appeared in 71 games for the Wild, including last season. C Eric Belanger tallied 108 points in 214 games for the Wild from 2007 to 2010. LW Ryan Jones was a fourth round pick of the Wild in 2004.
The Wild’s 34 all-time wins over the Oilers are the most against any one team for Minnesota.