The Edmonton Oilers finish their brief two-game home stand tonight when they conclude their three game season series with the Minnesota Wild. The Oilers and Wild are two of the many teams fighting for playoff positioning in the tight Western Conference. It is Minnesota’s lone trip to Edmonton this season.
The Oilers are coming off of a hard-fought overtime loss to the Boston Bruins, 2-1, on Wednesday night. The Wild, meanwhile, took a 4-3 shootout decision in Vancouver on Wednesday night. The Wild won the last meeting 6-5 on December 12th.
Mikko Koskinen starts for the Oilers, while Alex Stalock gets the go for the Wild.
Keys To The Game:
Edmonton: Confidence is key! The Oilers were too hesitant and didn’t really seem to believe on Wednesday against the Bruins. They bobbled tons of pucks and were slow to assignments in the first period. Once they got back to basics, they were fine. The Oilers need that swagger early tonight against a desperate team.
Minnesota: Match Edmonton’s structure. Both of these lineups will be lacking firepower tonight. The Wild have a habit of making games boring and ugly. Is it fun to watch? No. Does it work? Quite a bit, yes. If they want to keep their slim hopes alive, they’ll need to play that ugly, structured style.
Players To Watch:
Edmonton: Darnell Nurse struggled with an increased workload and a matchup against the Patrice Bergeron line on Wednesday. It’ll be interesting to see how he responds tonight against a Wild team with less firepower. Nurse is key to Edmonton’s success in this next stretch.
Minnesota: Alex Galchenyuk was the lone NHL piece returned to the Wild for Jason Zucker earlier this month. Galchenyuk has struggled in recent seasons, but possesses a good shot and can play in a top six role. His fit in the Wild lineup will be interesting to watch.
Connor McDavid (quad) is close but will not play tonight. He will travel with the team to LA tomorrow. Kris Russell (concussion), Joakim Nygard (hand), James Neal (foot) and Oscar Klefbom (shoulder) are all on IR and still at least two weeks away. Evan Bouchard is tonight’s healthy scratch.
Edmonton Oilers Lines:
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Leon Draisaitl – Kailer Yamamoto
Tyler Benson – Riley Sheahan – Josh Archibald
Sam Gagner – Gaetan Haas – Alex Chiasson
Jujhar Khaira – Colby Cave – Patrick Russell
Darnell Nurse – Ethan Bear
Caleb Jones – Adam Larsson
William Lagesson – Matt Benning
The Wild enter tonight with a relatively healthy roster. Ex-Oiler Brad Hunt and Ryan Donato will be tonight’s healthy scratches. Viktor Rask and Greg Pateryn will return to the lineup.
Minnesota Wild Lines:
Zach Parise – Eric Staal – Kevin Fiala
Alex Galchenyuk – Luke Kunin – Mats Zuccarello
Marcus Foligno – Joel Eriksson-Ek – Jordan Greenway
Viktor Rask – Mikko Koivu – Ryan Hartman
Ryan Suter – Jared Spurgeon
Jonas Brodin – Mathew Dumba
Carson Soucy – Greg Pateryn
“If you want to be a good team and make the playoffs, you have to have that depth,” Ethan Bear said on Wednesday. “Guys are stepping up and it’s good to see.” Bear assisted on Sam Gagner’s powerplay goal to even things up in the third period.
Edmonton’s penalty kill has been elite as of late. The Oilers have killed all 19 penalties taken in their last six games. Overall, they have killed 30 of the 31 penalties they have taken in their last eleven games. That’s a success rate of 96.8 percent.
Since recalling Kailer Yamamoto from AHL Bakersfield, the Oilers have made a habit out of winning. The club is 12-4-3 in the 19 games since the recall. They currently sit in second in the Pacific Division, one point behind the Vegas Golden Knights.