WILD (22-18-5) at OILERS (14-23-7)
TV: FS-N (HD), FS-WI (HD), SNET-W (HD)
Minnesota 6-4-0; Edmonton 2-7-1
Season series --
This is the second of six meetings between the Northwest Division foes. The Wild scored a 4-2 victory in their home opener back on Oct. 14 as Mikko Koivu
scored two of the team's four power-play goals. Niklas Backstrom
stopped 24 shots to improve to 12-0-0 with a 1.16 goals-against average lifetime at home against the Oilers. Minnesota took three of six meetings last season, with all of those wins coming in regulation and one loss via the shootout.
Big story --
The first pick in the 2010 Entry Draft, Taylor Hall
, is finding some positive karma alongside Edmonton linemates Ales Hemsky
and Dustin Penner of late. The trio combined for 3 goals and 9 points in a 5-2 victory over the San Jose Sharks on Friday. Penner has 2 goals and 4 points in his last six games; Hemsky has 1 goal and 6 points in his last five games and Hall has produced 2 goals and 5 points in his last five matches.
"Everybody brings something special to the line, there's no doubt about that," Oilers coach Tom Renney said. "Taylor is just a fearless kid that wants the puck. He can play the game, he knows where the net is and navigates the ice extremely well."
When goalie Jose Theodore joined Backstrom (hip) on the Wild sideline after suffering a hip injury in Nashville on Jan. 11, Friday's goaltending tandem in a 4-1 loss to Colorado was Anton Khudobin and Matthew Hackett. Khudobin made 14 saves on 17 shots in the loss to the Avalanche -- his first start of the season. With Backstrom serving as his backup, Khudobin was called upon once again on Sunday and stopped 32 shots in recording his first career shutout in a 4-0 victory over the Vancouver Canucks.
"Good teams like that don't play 40 minutes, they play 60 full minutes and it doesn't matter what the score is. They just play as hard as they can, so I was ready for that," Khudobin said.
The Oilers concluded a five-game road trip with a 1-4-0 mark following Sunday's 3-2 loss to the Anaheim Ducks. Sam Gagner
had 1 goal and 2 points in the loss. The club returns home to open the first of three straight at Rexall Place against the Wild, where they'll look to correct a struggling power play. The Oilers are scoreless on 38 straight power-play opportunities since Dec. 23 after going scoreless on five chances against the Ducks on Sunday. The Oilers, 15th in the Western Conference with 14 wins and 35 points, will play host to Dallas on Thursday and Nashville on Sunday.
Who's hot --
Wild center Mikko Koivu
has 8 points (2 goals, 6 assists) in his past eight games. … It's no surprise Edmonton goalie Devan Dubnyk
is earning more playing time. He's started three of the last six games and, for the season, sports a 4-4-5 record with a team-low 2.81 goals-against average and .920 save percentage.
Injury report --
Minnesota is without Theodore (hip), defenseman Marek Zidlicky
(shoulder) and forward Guillaume Latendresse
(groin). … Edmonton defenseman Ryan Whitney
, out with an ankle injury, reportedly is headed for surgery. Captain Shawn Horcoff
(knee) hopes to be back this week. Winger Gilbert Brule
is out with an ankle injury, as is defenseman Jim Vandermeer. Rookie forward Jordan Eberle
is still recovering from an ankle injury and an appendectomy.
Stat pack --
Wild wing Cal Clutterbuck
leads the team with 13 goals, already matching his career high set last season, while ranking first in the NHL with 212 hits.
Puck drop --
Hall is currently third among rookies with 14 goals, third in points (27 points) and first among first-year forwards in average ice time (18:17).