To avoid the longest road losing streak in franchise history, the Minnesota Wild will have to beat a Vancouver Canucks team playing excellent hockey at home.
The Wild try to win on the road for the first time in a month when they visit the Canucks Saturday in the front end of a home-and-home series between the Northwest Division rivals. They meet again Tuesday in Minnesota.
Minnesota is 4-10-1 on the road this season, tied for the second-most regulation losses in the NHL, and hasn't won away from home since a 7-6 shootout victory over the Nashville Predators on Nov. 16. The Wild (16-13-2) have dropped six straight since then to match the team's worst road skid, set from Feb. 12-March 22 last season. They have been outscored 26-14 during their current streak while converting just 3 of 29 power-play opportunities.
Todd White put the Wild on the board first Thursday in Edmonton, but they collapsed in the final period, allowing three unanswered goals en route to a 3-1 loss to the Oilers.
"It was just a matter of time before that game went to one side or the other," Wild coach Jacques Lemaire said. "We played good for a good part of the game but at the right time when we needed a little bit more intensity we didn't get it."
Minnesota goaltender Manny Fernandez made 22 saves in Thursday's defeat and is 7-6-1 with a tie and a 2.94 goals-against average in 17 career starts against Vancouver (16-15-1). The Wild have won both matchups against the Canucks this season, but are concluding a three-game road trip in a city where they've notched just one win in their last eight trips.
Vancouver is wrapping up a three-game homestand, going for its fourth straight win at GM Place and eighth in its last 10 games there. The Canucks allowed the first goal Thursday, but scored three straight to beat the Calgary Flames 3-1.
They also recorded back-to-back wins overall for the first time in more than three weeks.
"Our players didn't shy away from the challenge," Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said. "Since (Wednesday) everybody mentioned this was a must game, a statement game, an important game. They knew we had to find a way to win this and they took the challenge head on, played one of our best games of the year."
Roberto Luongo made 21 saves, helping Vancouver thwart eight Calgary power-play opportunities.
"Louie was as big part of it, but the penalty kill was really sharp," said captain Markus Naslund, who leads the Canucks with 12 goals, but hasn't scored in his last seven games against the Wild. "It wasn't a pretty game, but we needed it badly. We struggled against our own division and this was a key win for us."
Luongo has struggled against the Wild, going 1-5-1 with a tie and a 3.05 GAA in eight career starts.
Rory Fitzpatrick (broken ankle) and Josh Green (broken toe) both returned from injuries Thursday and the Canucks could get Taylor Pyatt (shoulder) and Sami Salo (neck) back Saturday.