It’s been nearly four years since the Edmonton Oilers have won six straight games. To do so, they will have to beat the league’s best penalty-killing unit and one of its stingiest defenses.
Edmonton looks to extend its winning streak when it meets the Minnesota Wild in the first of two straight matchups between the Northwest Division rivals at Rexall Place.
The Oilers are 7-0-3 at home in December and finish the calendar year with a home game against the Nashville Predators and a road contest versus the Calgary Flames in an always tough matchup of provincial rivals.
Edmonton last won six in a row from March 14-26, 2002, a run in which it allowed just five goals. The Oilers have had two five-game winning streaks since then with both ending with losses to the Dallas Stars.
“It’s not part of the game plan, that’s for sure,” Oilers coach Craig MacTavish said. “We’re just on a bit of a roll.”
Hemsky, selected last week to the Czech Olympic team, has scored a point in each of the last five games, recording three goals and seven assists in that span.
Minnesota earned a split of its home-and-home series against Colorado with a 5-3 home win Friday over the Avalanche. Todd White and Slovak Olympic selection Marian Gaborik scored 36 seconds apart in the third period to lift the Wild to their third win in four games.
“We were able to get some quality goals late in the game,” said White, who noted the importance of rebounding from Thursday’s 4-3 loss to the Avs. “We kind of let one get away from us. They had gained some ground on us, and we had to get it back.”
The Wild begin play in last place in the Northwest, five points behind fourth-place Colorado for the eighth and final Western Conference playoff spot.
Minnesota, which boasts the NHL’s top penalty-killing unit, went unscored upon in three chances. The Wild have killed 26 consecutive penalties, dating back to a power-play goal Dec. 13 by Miroslav Satan of the New York Islanders.
Minnesota is 11-0-0 when its scores at least four goals and its 88 goals allowed ties it with Calgary for fewest in the Western Conference.
Minnesota and Edmonton will square off again Wednesday night.