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Wild want to continue recent mastery over Oilers

by Eric Goodman
WILD (2-2-2) at OILERS (2-2-1)


Season series:
The clubs have played once already this season with Minnesota claiming a 2-1 shootout victory at home on Oct. 13. Devin Setoguchi notched the game-winning tally in the fourth round of the shootout. The Wild will look to extend their winning streak against the Oilers to eight games after earning the six-game season-series sweep in 2010-11.

Big Story:
The Oilers have struggled recently against the Wild, so the young Edmonton players could use a win as an early confidence booster. Minnesota has dropped two in a row and will look to put an end to that losing streak as it begins a quick two-game road trip that ends with a visit to Vancouver on Saturday.

Team Scope:

Wild: Positive consistency hasn't been found yet by Minnesota, although it has established a dubious win-one, lose-two pattern over its first six games. But captain Mikko Koivu and company will seek to turn it around as the Wild face an Edmonton team on Thursday that they have had great success against recently.

The Wild will look to rebound from a 4-2 loss at home to the Crosby and Malkin-less Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday. The first period of that game was a tough one for Minnesota as it couldn't capitalize on two power-play opportunities and gave up two goals over the first seven-plus minutes of play. The Wild would go on to surrender a goal three different ways as the Pens got tallies shorthanded, on the power play and at even strength. 

"If a team's going to come into our building, they should know that they're going to be playing against the Minnesota Wild and it should not be a lot of fun," coach Mike Yeo said. "I don't think that we made Pittsburgh feel that way in the first period."

Oilers: Much like Thursday's opponent, Edmonton hasn't exactly bolted out of the gate to begin the season. After an exciting 2-1 shootout victory over the Penguins to start the season, the Oilers went on to drop three of their next four games. And getting a much-needed victory over the Wild won't be easy, as Edmonton is just 8-24-2 against Minnesota over the last five seasons.

The Oilers will seek to bounce back from a tough 2-1 loss against the rival Calgary Flames in their last game on Tuesday. Edmonton grabbed a 1-0 first-period lead and maintained it until the closing minutes of the third, only to fall on two Calgary goals in a span of 89 seconds with just under six minutes left in regulation.

"We had our chances," coach Tom Renney told regarding the two quick Flames goals. "We had ample opportunity at the other end of the rink to do something about it. We couldn't quite pull it off."

Who's Hot: Wild forward Guillaume Latendresse is in the midst of a three-game point streak, totaling 1 goal and 3 assists over that span. … Rookie Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has been solid for the Oilers with a team-leading 4 goals through five games.

Injury Report: Minnesota will still be without defenseman Mike Lundin and forward Cody Almond, who are both sidelined with back issues. … Defenseman Ryan Whitney (ankle) made his season debut for the Oilers on Tuesday. Forward Sam Gagner (ankle) is still day-to-day, while winger Ales Hemsky (shoulder) isn't expected back for a few more weeks. Forward Taylor Hall was experiencing flu-like symptoms Wednesday, but Renney told the team website that his young star was feeling much better.
Stat Pack:
Minnesota has struggled recently on the power play, going scoreless over its last 10 chances with the man advantage.

Puck Drop:
The Oilers have been without Gagner since the season began, but they might be getting him back soon. Renney was happy with Gagner's progress in his fitness tests Wednesday and is looking forward to his return.

"It's a possibility (Thursday)," Renney told the team website regarding Gagner's playing status.

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