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Oilers at Wild preview

Neal to play 800th NHL game for Edmonton; goalie Kahkonen will make second straight start for Minnesota

by Jessi Pierce / Independent Correspondent

OILERS (18-11-4) at WILD (14-12-5)

8 p.m. ET; FS-N, FS-WI, SNOL, NHL.TV


The Game

Goalie Kaapo Kahkonen will start consecutive games for the first time in his NHL career when the Minnesota Wild play the Edmonton Oilers at Xcel Energy Center on Thursday.

The 23-year-old made 31 saves in a 3-2 shootout loss to the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday. He was recalled from Iowa of the American Hockey League on Nov. 20 while goalie Devan Dubnyk tended to family matters.

Minnesota has lost two straight games (0-1-1) but is 7-1-3 in its past 11.

Goalie Mike Smith will start for the Oilers, who have lost two in a row (0-1-1) and three of four (1-2-1). Edmonton is 2-4-1 in its past seven games. 

Oilers forward James Neal will play in his 800th NHL game.


Players to watch

Oilers center Connor McDavid leads the NHL with 55 points (19 goals, 36 assists), one ahead of teammate Leon Draisaitl (19 goals, 35 assists).

Wild forward Zach Parise has seven points (four goals, three assists) in his past eight games and 12 points (eight assists, four assists) in his past 13. 


They said it

"They're always good in this rink. It's tough barn to play in. I think for us, it's more about ourselves. We have to get back to our winning ways and the way we have played throughout the year. We have to get back in the win column, we have to get back to doing the little things, all the simple things that makes us a good fast team and have a bounce-back win for us tonight." -- Oilers forward James Neal

"(Kahkonen's) resilient. He'll let a couple goals in and then he'll shut the door. I think he's deserved another shot today. So I mean, we have to find out about these guys. We'll find out tonight, another big test (against Edmonton)." -- Wild coach Bruce Boudreau on starting Kaapo Kahkonen


Oilers projected lineup

Joakim Nygard -- Connor McDavid -- Zack Kassian

Leon Draisaitl -- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins -- Alex Chiasson

James Neal -- Gaetan Haas -- Sam Gagner

Jujhar Khaira -- Riley Sheahan -- Josh Archibald

Darnell Nurse -- Ethan Bear

Oscar Klefbom -- Adam Larsson

Kris Russell -- Caleb Jones

Mike Smith

Mikko Koskinen

Scratched: Brandon Manning, Markus Granlund, Patrick Russell

Injured: Matt Benning (head)


Wild projected lineup

Jason Zucker -- Eric Staal -- Mats Zuccarello

Zach Parise - Ryan Donato -- Kevin Fiala

Jordan Greenway -- Joel Eriksson Ek -- Luke Kunin

Marcus Foligno -- Victor Rask -- Ryan Hartman

Ryan Suter - Matt Dumba

Carson Soucy -- Jonas Brodin

Brennan Menell -- Brad Hunt

Kaapo Kahkonen

Alex Stalock

Scratched: Nick Seeler, Gerald Mayhew, Devan Dubnyk

Injured: Jared Spurgeon (upper body), Mikko Koivu (lower body), Greg Pateryn (lower body)


Status report

Minnesota recalled Mayhew from Iowa on Wednesday. … Dubnyk hopes to make the road trip next week, Boudreau said. His playing status remains unknown. ...Staal is a game-time decision following an apparent injury Tuesday but is expected to play. 


Stat pack

The Oilers are first in the NHL on the power play (31.6 percent) and have scored on the man-advantage in each of their past five games. …The Wild are on a season-high 10-game point streak (7-0-3) at home, their longest since a team-best 13 games (10-0-3) from Dec. 27, 2017 to Feb. 13, 2018.

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