Minnesota continues its three-game road trip against Northwest Division foes on Thursday night against the struggling Oilers at Rexall Place.
The Wild defeated the Oilers 2-0 at home on Oct. 10, and is 8-1-0 with two ties in its last 11 visits to Edmonton.
Facing Calgary on Wednesday, Minnesota (7-1-1) jumped out to a 3-0 lead before the game was 10 minutes old on power-play goals from Brian Rolston and Mark Parrish and an even-strength tally by Wes Walz. Niklas Backstrom, who was second in the league with a 1.48 goals-against average coming in, then allowed five unanswered goals in the 5-3 defeat.
“This brings you back down to earth quick,” Parrish said. “It’s a humbling game, it really is. Just when you think you have everything figured out, something like that comes along and bites you.”
Backstrom is 1-1-1 with a 3.25 GAA on the road this season compared with a 4-0-0 record, a 1.00 GAA and two shutouts at home. Backstrom led the league with a 1.97 GAA last season, and allowed just one goal in his only road start against the Oilers, a 2-1 Minnesota win on March 15.
The Wild could start backup Josh Harding in goal for this contest. He’s 2-0-0 with a 0.50 GAA and one shutout this season, and also earned his first career road shutout with a 30-save performance in a 5-0 victory on March 1 at Edmonton.
Marian Gaborik drew two assists on Wednesday and has five during a four-game streak. He’s also enjoyed great success recently against Edmonton.
The third overall draft pick in 2000 and the Wild’s all-time scoring leader, Gaborik has seven goals and six assists in an eight-game overall point streak, and eight goals and three assists during a seven-game streak in Edmonton. The Wild have won all seven games at Rexall Place during Gaborik’s scoring run.
Minnesota’s Pavol Demitra missed Wednesday’s game with a strained adductor muscle despite traveling with the team, and his status for this game is not immediately known. With eight points, Demitra is tied for second on the team with Gaborik and Pierre-Marc Bouchard.
The Wild wrap up their road swing Sunday in Colorado.
Failing to score with the man advantage this season has hampered Edmonton (3-6-0), which leads only Phoenix and Nashville in wins among Western Conference clubs. The Oilers are 0-for-15 on the power play over their last four games, and last in the league having converted only one of 35 this season.
Edmonton gave up three first-period goals on Wednesday in a 4-2 loss to the Avalanche. Tom Gilbert and Dustin Penner scored in the defeat as the Oilers lost their fifth straight game against a division rival.
“We need to win for sure against our division,” Edmonton’s Jarret Stoll said. “If you don’t play well against your division you’re not going to look that good at the end of the year. It’s a very good and competitive division and we have to come out stronger and play better against those teams.”
On Wednesday, Edmonton placed prized free-agent acquisition Sheldon Souray on injured reserve with a sprained left shoulder he suffered on Oct. 13. The high-scoring defenseman, who has a goal and six assists in 2007-08, is expected to miss another two weeks.