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Oilers host Wild in home finale

by John Kreiser
WILD (37-35-8) at OILERS (25-44-11)

TV -- KSTC (HD); SNET-West (HD)

Last 10 --
Minnesota 2-7-1; Edmonton 2-6-2

Season series -- It's the sixth and final game between the Northwest Division rivals, with the Wild going for the sweep. Minnesota has scored four goals in each of the first five, including a 4-2 win at home last week.

Big story -- Both teams are banged up and limping toward the finish. The Wild play their last road game after losing 5-0 at Vancouver on Thursday. It's the last home game for the Oilers, who've won two of their last three.

Team Scope:

Wild -- It's not obvious from the final score, but the Wild had some good moments against the Canucks -- it's just that none of them wound up in the net. Minnesota has lost 11 of its last 13, and with a lineup loaded with kids and callups, it's a tough time for coach Todd Richards.

"You're not going to win any games by not scoring," Richards said.

Oilers -- Edmonton will finish last for the second straight season, but the Oilers can take the memory of a home-and-home sweep of League-leading Vancouver into the summer. But after beating the Canucks Saturday in Vancouver and Tuesday in Edmonton, the Oilers were walloped 6-1 at Calgary on Wednesday.

"It's not a good feeling to finish where we have two years in a row. We feel like, despite our record this year, we have made strides and there is hope coming in the future," said forward Sam Gagner, one of several Oilers who've been out with injuries. "We have to find a way to turn ourselves into winners and it's not going to come easy, but I think there's definitely hope and we're all excited going into next year."

Who's hot --
Oilers goaltender Devan Dubnyk allowed just one goal in the back-to-back wins against the Canucks.

Injury report --
Minnesota's Chuck Kobasew was a late scratch for personal reasons and Cal Clutterbuck was out of the lineup because of a sudden illness. Forward Martin Havlat (upper body) will likely miss the last two games. Center John Madden (lower body), defensemen Cam Barker (back) and Marek Zidlicky (hamstring) are also out. … The Oilers' injury list grew when defenseman Tom Gilbert sat out Wednesday with a bad back. He didn't skate Thursday and isn't likely to play.

Stat pack --
The Oilers went 10-0-2 in their first 12 games against the Wild. Since then, Edmonton is 15-28-2-5.

Puck drop -- Oilers coach Tom Renney said it's important for his players, even at the end of another last-place season, to put out the kind of effort that shows they care.

"We are a team of pride, we represent the City of Edmonton, quite honestly, and as much as that's a cliche, I don't care what people think about that," he said Thursday. "That's important to me, and I think it should be to each and every one of [the players], and the way they've played these last few weeks, I think that you can see that they care," he said.

"If you reflect back on this entire season, as much as it's been tough and we've had nights where we haven't looked very good, I think for the most part you can say that this team cared. There's a lot to be said for that. Let's not end it on anything other than a positive note with our effort."

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