NHL

Fri, Apr 26, 2013 - 8:00 PM ET
Game Preview
 

Oilers-Wild Preview

Share This Story

   
 

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP)

The Minnesota Wild looked like they were going to miss the postseason for the fifth straight year following a terrible start to April.

A clutch win over the defending Stanley Cup champions, though, has Minnesota on the verge of returning to the playoffs.

The Wild only need to beat Edmonton at home Friday night or win at Colorado on Saturday to secure a playoff berth, and the Oilers enter this matchup playing even worse than Minnesota this month.

The Wild (25-18-3) lost eight of their first 11 in April, including a couple at home when they dominated most of the night only to lose a critical contest.

On Tuesday, they were able to match Los Angeles' intensity.

The time on the scoreboard was ticking toward zero and the Wild were clinging to a one-goal lead the Kings weren't ready to give up on.

Kings defenseman Slava Voynov signaled to a teammate on the other side he was open, corralled a perfect through-the-slot pass at the far edge of the right circle and wound up for the potential tying shot. Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom lunged to block the puck with the middle of his right leg and smothered it in the crease with help from defenseman Ryan Suter with 11 seconds left.

Almost everyone in the arena exhaled, and the Wild won 2-1 to avoid a third straight loss.

"You just have to stick with it. We talked before: There's going to be ups and downs," captain Mikko Koivu said.

After signing Suter and Zach Parise to mega contracts last summer, this lockout-shortened season took on a playoffs-or-bust vibe. In January and March, the Wild's first postseason appearance since 2008 looked like a mere formality. In February and April, not so much.

They lost 6-1 at San Jose last Thursday and 4-1 at home to Calgary on Sunday, heightening the tension and pressure to the point where a team meeting was held before Monday's practice. The clear-the-air session apparently did some good.

"It's just every game we're trying to do the same things that we're supposed to do, and a lot of that is mental right now getting toward the end of the season," Koivu said. "Your mind has to be in it each and every shift. It's not about effort. It's about making the right plays."

They did that against the Kings.

"The last game could've unraveled us, too, and it didn't. That's how you respond," coach Mike Yeo said.

Minnesota hasn't come undone in its meetings with the Oilers (17-22-7) over the past few seasons. The Wild have won all three matchups this year, outscoring Edmonton 12-6, to improve to 13-2-0 in the series since the start of the 2010-11 season.

Matt Cullen has two goals and two assists against the Oilers this season, while Charlie Coyle and Kyle Brodziak have each scored twice. Backstrom has been in net for all three games, and he's 11-1-0 with a 1.96 goals-against average in his last 12 starts versus Edmonton.

That doesn't bode well for an Oilers team that has totaled two goals during a three-game skid. Edmonton lost 4-1 to Chicago at home on Wednesday night, dropping to 1-9-0 in its last 10.

"The individual errors are just killing us at the moment," said coach Ralph Krueger, whose team finishes the season Saturday with a visit from Vancouver. "We need to be very cognizant about the importance of reacting to this. The results are less important than the way we are playing and executing right now.

"We're being tested right now in the severest of ways with the losing month like this. We should all expect more from each other."

Tagged: Oilers, Kings, Wild

Related Stories

Member Comments

Please note by clicking on "Post comment" you acknowledge that you have read the Terms of Use and the comment you are posting is in compliance with such terms. Be Polite. Inappropriate posts may be removed by the moderator.

powered by



Play Hockey Simulation Game on WhatIfSports

NHL Videos

Toews, Kane: Easy decision to resign with Blackhawks Posted: Jul 17, 2014
Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane say their decision to sign matching 8-year, $84M...

LA mayor 'F-bombs' Kings rally Posted: Jun 17, 2014
Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti toasts the Stanley Cup champion Kings in front o...

Kings, fans celebrate Stanley Cup Posted: Jun 16, 2014
Kings players celebrate winning the Stanley Cup with a parade through downtown L...

Fox Sports Store

    itemName itemURL imageSrc price itemDescription
    Reebok Sidney Crosby Pittsburgh Penguins Premier Hockey Jersey - Black http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Pittsburgh_Penguins/browse/featuredproduct/175178/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_175000/FF_175178_xl.jpg&w=100 159.95 Reebok Sidney Crosby Pittsburgh Penguins Premier Hockey Jersey - Black
    Reebok Dallas Stars White Premier Hockey Jersey http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Dallas_Stars/browse/featuredproduct/243363/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_243000/FF_243363_xl.jpg&w=100 124.95 Reebok Dallas Stars White Premier Hockey Jersey
    Reebok Tampa Bay Lightning Primary Logo T-Shirt - Royal Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Tampa_Bay_Lightning/browse/featuredproduct/301017/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_301000/ff_301017_xl.jpg&w=100 19.95 Reebok Tampa Bay Lightning Primary Logo T-Shirt - Royal Blue
    Majestic Anaheim Ducks Black Official Logo Full Zip Hoodie Sweatshirt http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Anaheim_Ducks/browse/featuredproduct/398322/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_398000/FF_398322_xl.jpg&w=100 43.99 Majestic Anaheim Ducks Black Official Logo Full Zip Hoodie Sweatshirt
    Detroit Red Wings Youth Black Southpaw Backpack http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Detroit_Red_Wings/browse/featuredproduct/403205/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_403000/FF_403205_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Detroit Red Wings Youth Black Southpaw Backpack
    Reebok Chicago Blackhawks #88 Patrick Kane Red Premier Hockey Jersey http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Chicago_Blackhawks/browse/featuredproduct/408123/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_408000/FF_408123_xl.jpg&w=100 159.95 Reebok Chicago Blackhawks #88 Patrick Kane Red Premier Hockey Jersey
    Majestic New Jersey Devils Red Felt Tek Patch Pullover Hoodie Sweatshirt http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_New_Jersey_Devils/browse/featuredproduct/456774/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_456000/ff_456774_xl.jpg&w=100 47.99 Majestic New Jersey Devils Red Felt Tek Patch Pullover Hoodie Sweatshirt
    Vancouver Canucks 2011 NHL Western Conference Champions Hockey Stick http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Vancouver_Canucks/browse/featuredproduct/665779/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_665000/ff_665779_xl.jpg&w=100 11.95 Vancouver Canucks 2011 NHL Western Conference Champions Hockey Stick
    Majestic New York Islanders Royal Blue Felt Tek Patch Pullover Hoodie Sweatshirt http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_New_York_Islanders/browse/featuredproduct/752594/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_752000/ff_752594_xl.jpg&w=100 47.99 Majestic New York Islanders Royal Blue Felt Tek Patch Pullover Hoodie Sweatshirt