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Oilers shoot for fourth straight against Wild

by Brian Hunter /
OILERS (19-32-8) at WILD (31-22-6)


Last 10:
Edmonton 4-6-0; Minnesota 6-3-1

Season series:
Fourth of six meetings this season between these Northwest Division rivals. The Wild have taken the first three matchups from the Oilers, scoring four goals in each victory. Mikko Koivu had a two-goal game for Minnesota on Oct. 14 and Kyle Brodziak did the same on Oct. 21.

Big story: Edmonton is enjoying its best stretch of hockey since winning four straight and five of six in late November and early December. The Oilers will try to tie their season high with a fourth consecutive victory Tuesday. Meanwhile, the Wild conclude a three-game homestand on which they have gained three of a possible four points so far.

Team Scope:

For all the lumps Edmonton has taken this season with a young squad, those up-and-coming players have delivered their fair share of brilliant moments. Perhaps the biggest may have come Saturday afternoon, when Taylor Hall, the No. 1 pick in the 2010 Entry Draft, came up with a natural hat trick in the third period, rallying the Oilers to a 5-3 win over the visiting Thrashers.

"It's a great feeling anytime a player can get a hat trick and contribute to your team," Hall said. "But if we don't get those power plays and play strong as a group in the third, I don't get those goals.

"It was a really fun night on all parts. Everyone chanting your name and all of the hats raining down, it's something I will never forget."

Wild: In a thriller that served as part of "Hockey Day In America," Minnesota and Detroit played 65 minutes and still couldn't decide Sunday's game, so they went to a shootout where Pavel Datsyuk and Todd Bertuzzi scored to deal the Wild a tough 2-1 defeat. Nicklas Lidstrom and Martin Havlat traded goals under four minutes apart in the third period and Niklas Backstrom made sure the home team didn't come away empty-handed with a 38-save effort.

"He played great. It guess it's something that you come to expect, making certain saves look easy and making some saves that you're not expecting him to make," coach Todd Richards said.

Who's hot: Ales Hemsky has 4 goals and 3 assists during a three-game points streak for the Oilers. Shawn Horcoff has 1 goal and 4 assists during a three-game points streak. … Havlat has goals in consecutive games for the Wild. Backstrom is 10-5-1 in his last 16 games, allowing two goals or fewer 12 times during that stretch.

Injury report:
Edmonton forward Gilbert Brule and defenseman Ryan Whitney are out with ankle injuries. Whitney will miss the remainder of the season. … Minnesota lost Koivu to a left hand injury Friday against Anaheim and he's out indefinitely. Forward Guillaume Latendresse (hip/sports hernia) is on injured reserve.

Stat pack: Hall took nine of Edmonton's 26 shots on Saturday in just under 20 minutes of ice time. … Matt Cullen and Brent Burns have also struck for a pair of goals over the Wild's first three games against the Oilers.

Puck drop: Playing without your captain isn't something any team in the postseason hunt wants to do for an extended period of time, but Minnesota is determined to continue treading water until Koivu returns.

"When he's gone, we want to step up and help him and make sure we're still in the race or in the playoffs when he comes back," Backstrom said.

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