Preview: Wild vs. Oilers
EDMONTON — The Minnesota Wild lost the first three games of their five-game road trip.
But as they prepare to play the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday, Minnesota’s coach and players said they feel like they should have come out with something more.
All three were one-goal losses, including Friday 3-2 shootout loss to Calgary, and two came in the shootout.
In each of the Wild’s last five games, they scored first. So, it’s not like Minnesota is struggling badly. It’s more of a case of small mistakes costing them points.
“We’ve just got to get sharper,” said Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk, who played 171 games as an Edmonton Oiler. “We’re a great hockey team. We talk about that in the room. Just because we’re a great hockey team doesn’t mean it’s just going to happen for us. We have to go out there and be great. We have a lot of guys in this room that can do that. It’s a long season. I have no doubt we’ll get back to where we were.”
If the Wild could get some goals from their top line, they could turn narrow losses into victories. Coach Bruce Boudreau has been very critical of his top unit of Charlie Coyle, Zach Parise and Eric Staal. The trio didn’t get a point against Calgary, and generated only four shots on goal.
They were pointless in Tuesday’s 5-4 loss to the Vancouver Canucks.
“(They) weren’t very good,” Boudreau said of his top three. “They’ve got to get going on their own. We can prod them, but in the end, we need those guys to be our best players or we’re not going to have success.”
The Oilers won only their second home game in their last seven on Saturday, a 3-2 overtime victory over the Anaheim Ducks. Leon Draisaitl scored the winner and has three goals in his last two games. Connor McDavid, the NHL’s leader with 34 points, had his seven-game point streak snapped, but still has 15 points in his last eight outings.
“Sometimes it takes a little while to build chemistry and feel really comfortable with guys,” Draisaitl said. “We had some good looks (against the Ducks) and had the tough matchups.”
Oilers coach Todd McLellan is looking to get more out of the Oilers’ power play on home ice. It has been Jekyll-and-Hyde this season. On the road, it has a 26.8 percent success rate, but it’s only 12.6 at home.
The Oilers got a power-play goal in Saturday’s win, though, and another just as an Anaheim penalty was expiring. So the coach is hoping the team is snapping out of its home-ice funk.
“We’ve moved a few people around and encouraged them to throw more pucks at the net, but tactically and systematically, there is not a lot of difference,” McLellan said. “They are just going in. We were in the crapper with the power play and now we are starting to come out of it and we need to keep it rolling.”
This will be the first meeting of the season between the Wild and Oilers.