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Wild try to continue home dominance of Oilers

by Sergei J. Feldman /

OILERS (1-0-0) at WILD (1-1-1)

TV: SNET-West, FS-Wisconsin (HD), FS-North (HD)

Season Series: This is the first of six meetings between the two Northwest Division rivals. Minnesota swept the season series in 2010-11, outscoring Edmonton 23-9.

Big Story: The Oilers look to take advantage of their first shot at redemption against the Wild, who owned them last season. Conversely, the Wild aim to prove last season’s dominance will be part of a trend that continues this season. 

Team Scope:

Oilers: Oil Country is buzzing with hope that the Oilers can climb out of the NHL basement, a spot they’ve occupied in consecutive seasons.  They got off to a good start in their season-opener on Sunday, tying the game in the third period and beating Pittsburgh 2-1 in a shootout. It was a big night for Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, the first player taken in the Entry Draft this past June. After trailing 1-0 for the better part of that game, Nugent-Hopkins scored late in the third period.

“Going into the game, I was really nervous, but I tried to use that to my advantage,” Nugent-Hopkins said. “It felt pretty good. It was really exciting. But, I’m more excited about the win.”

Wild: While the Oilers have played just once, the Wild have played three times, including consecutive road contests against the Islanders and Senators after winning their season-opener against Columbus. Minnesota couldn’t overcome a bad start Monday and lost 2-1 on Long Island, then blew a 3-1 lead in the third period and fell 4-3 in a shootout at Ottawa on Tuesday.

“At least we got one point,” goaltender Niklas Backstrom said after stopping 41 of 44 shots through 65 minutes. “And in the end it could be a big difference.”

Who’s Hot: Goaltending will be an area of emphasis for the Oilers this season and so far, it’s been strength of the club. Young goalie Devan Dubnyk kept his club in the game, allowing just one goal while stopping 33 shots.  … Newcomers Dany Heatley and Devin Setoguchi have looked solid for the Wild so far. Heatley has a goal and two assists through three games, while Setoguchi has found the back of the net twice.

Injury Report: Talented offensive-defenseman Ryan Whitney remains sidelined with an ankle injury for the Oilers and is still day-to-day. Sam Gagner also deals with an ankle injury and is expected back in late October. … For the Wild, defenseman Mike Lundin is day-to-day with a back injury.

Stat Pack: Minnesota has beaten the Oilers in their last 16 visits to the Xcel Energy Center -- the Oilers haven't won there since a 2-1 victory on Jan. 16, 2007. … Overall, the Wild are 14-4-1 in their last 19 games against Edmonton.

Puck Drop: The Oilers aim to keep their momentum going against the Wild after an emotional first game opening game.

“It was hormone hockey,” coach Tom Renney said of the season opener. “I guess you have to expect that. Our team hadn’t played in a while and we had some guys playing their first ever NHL regular season game. They were almost over-excited … But we started to play a little better and started to share the puck better.”

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