Preview: Wild vs. Oilers
SAINT PAUL, Minn. — If the recent “feast or famine” pattern continues, the Edmonton Oilers are due for an offensive outburst when they visit the Minnesota Wild on Saturday afternoon.
The Oilers are 2-2-0 in their last four games, having scored six, zero, seven and zero goals in that stretch. So the laws of probability say they are liable to put a touchdown on the scoreboard at Xcel Energy Center.
Edmonton (13-17-2) comes to Minnesota after shooting the lights out on Thursday at home versus the Nashville Predators and having nothing to show for it in a 4-0 loss. That defeat came just a few days after they put 45 shots on the Toronto Maple Leafs’ net and were blanked 1-0.
“We had 46 shots on goal but their goalie played a hell of a game. It was a little bit of that Toronto feeling. We couldn’t get the first one,” said Oilers defenseman Oscar Klefbom. “It doesn’t matter if we let in one goal or eight goals, it doesn’t matter of we don’t score the first one. We have to get the first one. This is not going to be the last time we face a good goalie.”
They will face Minnesota’s backup goalie, who has been thrust into the every-night role in Minnesota. Alex Stalock is expected to be the goalie of record for the third straight game.
The Wild (17-11-3) have won four in a row and are climbing the Central Divison standings despite missing left winger Zach Parise, defenseman Jared Spurgeon and now starting goalie Devan Dubnyk, who is day-to-day with a knee injury suffered early in a shootout win over the Calgary Flames on Tuesday.
Stalock, who was a high school and college star in Minnesota before making his way back to his home-state team as Dubnyk’s backup, blanked the Maple Leafs on Thursday and said that the team is loving life and hockey recently, after an uneven first two months of the season.
“Anytime you can get the net more, it’s fun. And you just hope you can kind of keep it rolling,” said Stalock, who had 28 saves versus Toronto. “It’s fun the way this group’s playing right now, just coming to the rink, everybody’s smiling. Everybody’s having fun. It’s four in a row now. It’s just an atmosphere here where everybody’s having a good time.”
It was Stalock’s first shutout since March 2015, when he was with the San Jose Sharks, and the fifth of his career. The team got more good news on Friday, when both Spurgeon and Parise skated in practice, leaving some hope that the Wild may be inching closer to full health as they inch up in the the standings.
This is the first meeting of the season between the Wild and Oilers. Minnesota was 3-0-0 versus Edmonton last season, winning twice at Rogers Place. The teams will play in Edmonton in March and have a second game in Minnesota in early April.