National Hockey League
Wild-Oilers Preview
National Hockey League

Wild-Oilers Preview

Updated Mar. 4, 2020 9:41 p.m. ET

In the 55 games this season leading to his dismissal, former Minnesota coach Mike Yeo strung together four winning streaks of three games but never went beyond.

John Torchetti is set to match that in the minimum number of games on the job.

The opportunity comes Thursday night in Edmonton with the Wild concluding a three-game road trip, while Edmonton is playing the fourth of a six-game homestand.

Wednesday's 5-3 win in Calgary followed a 5-2 victory in Vancouver two nights before for Torchetti's debut, and the Wild (25-22-10) aren't just winning following a 1-11-2 span that cost Yeo his job. They're doing so with some impressive offense.


Prior to Monday, Minnesota hadn't scored more than three goals in a game since Jan. 5 - a 2-11-3 drought on which it averaged 1.87 goals per game with a 14.9 percent power play. With 10 goals and a power-play conversion in each, things are looking up under the interim coach.

Charlie Coyle has scored in both games under his new boss and three of his last four. Jason Pominville had a goal and an assist Wednesday after managing just the same in his previous 23 games.

"I think the message is, 'Let's start to work, let's start to compete, and let's start to get the puck back,'" Zach Parise told the league's official website. "We've responded well the first two games. Now we'd love to finish the road trip with another win. So far we've done pretty well, I think."

The Wild opened the season series with a 4-3 home win on Oct. 27 as part of a 9-2-1 stretch against the Oilers, which includes five wins in as many tries in Edmonton with a 17-5 scoring advantage.

After Tuesday's 5-3 home loss to Anaheim, the Oilers (22-30-6) have given up an average of 3.54 goals per game over a 3-7-1 span. Some of that falls on spending so much time in the penalty box. The Oilers have faced 36 short-handed situations in eight games since the All-Star break, which is fewer than only Philadelphia.

"It's a little bit of lack of discipline and a little bit of frustration creeping into our game," Matt Hendricks told the team's official website. "… We're getting a lot of penalties in the offensive zone or the neutral zone where we're trying to go on the offensive at those times.

"Obviously, you're going to get the defensive zone ones to try and stay in position. A guy beats you to the net and you take a hook, a trip or something to try to negate a scoring chance. But it's the ones in the offensive zone, when they're not necessary, that are the ones that really seem to sting."

Any positives in the latest letdown came from Taylor Hall and Leon Draisaitl ending their offensive droughts. The team's two points leaders had gone five games without a point, and for Draisaitl it was the first time doing so this season.

"I think we played really well," Draisaitl said. "I think we played a very competitive, strong game for 60 minutes. Obviously, it's frustrating to leave the rink with no points."

Cam Talbot gave up three goals before two empty netters, and fell to 1-3-0 with a 3.62 goals-against average over his last five games.

Minnesota's Devin Dubnyk faced the Flames and has won consecutive contests after an 0-8-1 span.

Backup Darcy Kuemper is 0-2-1 with a 3.66 GAA in his last three starts, but he's 2-0-1 with a 1.30 GAA in his career against the Oilers.


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