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Revamped Oilers visit weary Wild

by Davis Harper

OILERS (15-29-5) at WILD (25-19-5)


Last 10: Edmonton 3-5-2; Minnesota 5-5-0

Season series: This is the first of three games. The Minnesota Wild won three of four against the Edmonton Oilers in 2013, though the Oilers won 6-1 at Xcel Energy Center in the final game.

Big story: The Oilers made a midseason splash Wednesday when they dealt goaltender Devan Dubnyk to the Nashville Predators in exchange for forward Matt Hendricks, then acquired goalie Ben Scrivens from the Los Angeles Kings for a third-round pick in the 2014 Draft.

Oilers general manager Craig MacTavish said it was time for a change.

"We really felt for everybody it was time for a change with Devan," MacTavish said. "It gives us an opportunity to bring in another goaltender, Ben Scrivens, who's had statistically a very good season so far. It gives us an opportunity to have a pretty good look at him going forward to see where he could possibly fit in on a longer-term goaltending plan."

Minnesota is hanging on to a playoff berth in the Western Conference despite the absence of injured forwards Zach Parise and Mikko Koivu as well as starting goaltender Josh Harding. This is their eighth game in 15 days, and they showed some signs of fatigue Tuesday in a 3-0 home loss to the Ottawa Senators.

Team Scope:

Oilers: Scrivens will be reunited with coach Dallas Eakins, who coached him with the Toronto Marlies of the AHL before being hired by the Oilers last summer.

"He played very well for Dallas and he's got a shot to come in here and really establish himself in the National Hockey League," MacTavish said. "It was important that Dallas gave him the thumbs up in terms of his relationship with Ben."

Scrivens is excited to be returning to his hometown team.

"That was my team growing up … it's going to be fun to throw on that jersey and play for that logo," Scrivens said.

One thing Scrivens won't find is the kind of support he had in L.A. The Oilers have been outscored 37-24 during a 2-5-2 stretch. They rank in the bottom third League-wide in penalty kill (79.6), shots against (31.7) and are last in goals-against per game (3.51).

Wild: Coach Mike Yeo made practice on Wednesday optional, and most of his players opted not to skate after playing five games in seven days, including a back-to-back this past weekend in which they traveled between games.

With his team missing three key components, Yeo doesn't want to wear his team out with more than 30 games remaining.

"Obviously we'd love to have some practice time but that was a lot of games in a short period of time that we just played with the travel," Yeo said. "We've got to make sure that we put some fuel back in the tank. We've got to make sure that we're ready to compete hard tomorrow."

Who's hot: Oilers forward Taylor Hall has four points (two goals, two assists) during a three-game point streak. … Wild forward Dany Heatley has four points in Minnesota's past three games.

Injury report: Oilers forward Alex Hemsky (ankle) was sent back to Edmonton Thursday. The Oilers have been without forwards Jesse Joensuu (flu) and Corey Potter (groin), as well as defenseman Philip Larsen (illness). … For Minnesota, Parise (foot) practiced Wednesday for the first time since Dec. 28 and took part in the morning skate Thursday, though there is still no timetable for his return. He's still on injured reserve along with Harding (illness), Koivu (ankle surgery) and defenseman Jared Spurgeon (lower body).

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