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Oilers hope to end power outage on man advantage

by Robin Brownlee
EDMONTON -- The Edmonton Oilers will try to snap a franchise record of 11 straight games without a power-play goal when they open a three-game homestand against the Minnesota Wild tonight.

Scoreless in five attempts in a 3-2 loss to Anaheim Sunday, the Oilers face the Wild without a power-play goal in their last 38 attempts dating back to Dec. 23 -- a stretch that has seen them slip to 29th in power-play production at 12.7 percent.

"If we want to win some games we have to get better on the power play," forward Ales Hemsky said. "We have to get more shots, more traffic and just play harder. It's not two minutes' rest. We have to work harder for the goals."

The plummet in the rankings has coincided with the loss of defenseman Ryan Whitney, who led the Oilers in scoring with 27 points when he suffered a right ankle injury against Buffalo on Dec. 28.

Whitney, who has already missed nine games, had surgery on the ankle in North Carolina Monday and will be out indefinitely, so there aren't any quick fixes in the offing.

"He's obviously a tough guy to lose," forward Sam Gagner said. "He's a guy who moves the puck really well. He can calm a power play down and make the right play when it's needed."

Minnesota's 12th-ranked penalty-killing will see two new power-play units for the Oilers. The first has Magnus Paajarvi, Taylor Hall and Linus Omark up front with Taylor Chorney and Kurtis Foster on the points. The second unit has Dustin Penner, Gagner and Hemsky up front with Tom Gilbert and Jeff Petry on the points.

Around the rink: After going 1-4-0 on their five-game road trip, the Oilers return home at 2-7-1 overall in their last 10 games and 2-9-2 in the last 13. ... Minnesota is 11-7-3 on the road. ... The Oilers are 7-11-3 at Rexall Place. ... With the loss in Anaheim, Nikolai Khabibulin has lost his last eight starts and will sit in favor of Devan Dubnyk. ... Anton Khudobin, who made 32 saves to record his first career shutout in Minnesota's 4-0 win over Vancouver Sunday, will get the start for the Wild. ... Minnesota won the first two meetings with the Oilers this season, taking 4-2 decisions on Oct. 14 and Oct. 21. ... Edmonton's power play is 3-for-17 against the Wild this season.
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