The Wild hope to end a five-game winless streak away from home Thursday night when they continue a four-game road trip with a visit to Edmonton.
Production from the line of Marian Gaborik, Wes Walz and Pavol Demitra was one of the keys during Minnesota’s season-opening 7-0-1 run. Since then, however, the Wild are only 2-6-1 while that trio has been sidelined.
Gaborik and Demitra have both missed the last three games, including Tuesday’s 3-2 loss to Calgary that dropped Minnesota (9-6-2) to 0-2 on its trip.
In total, Gaborik has been sidelined for five of the last seven games while Demitra has missed seven of the last nine. Walz, meanwhile, has been out for five games while tending to a personal matter.
Without having to deal with Gaborik and Demitra, opponents have been able to key on the line of Brian Rolston, Eric Belanger and Pierre-Marc Bouchard. Rolston has only two points in his last five games while Belanger and Bouchard have combined for five in that span.
Mikko Koivu’s second goal of the game gave the Wild a 2-1 lead in the third period Tuesday night, but Jarome Iginla tied it 21 seconds later and the Flames scored the winner with 53 seconds remaining.
“We really did have the momentum there but Iginla’s goal was a little unfortunate for us for sure,” Rolston said after Minnesota fell to 0-4-1 in its last five road games. “Sometimes that can change a hockey game. We were still playing hard but then they get that third one.”
Niklas Backstrom continues to provide the Wild with solid goaltending. He has allowed three goals or fewer in 10 of 11 starts and ranks among the league leaders with a 2.08 goals-against average.
Backstrom is 6-0-0 with three shutouts and a 0.67 GAA lifetime against the Oilers.
Minnesota is 7-0-1 in its last eight meetings with Edmonton, including 2-0-1 this season. The Wild also have at least one point in 11 of their last 12 visits to Rexall Place, going 8-1-1 with two ties.
This is the opener of a six-game homestand for the Oilers (7-10-1), losers of four of five on their home ice.
Edmonton, though, won its second straight overall with a 1-0 shootout victory Wednesday at Vancouver. Ales Hemsky scored the only goal in the shootout, and Mathieu Garon made 29 saves for his 11th career shutout.
“When you play against a good goalie like Roberto Luongo you don’t want to fall behind early and give up a goal,” Garon said. “I felt good in the shootout. I knew it could have went long with Roberto in net.”
It was the second consecutive strong performance by Garon, who stopped 37 shots in a 4-2 victory Saturday at Calgary.
As well as Garon has played lately, Dwayne Roloson is expected to get the start Thursday against his former team.
Roloson, who played for Minnesota from 2001-04, last faced the Wild on Nov. 5 and allowed three goals on eight shots before he was pulled after one period. He is 4-8-1 with a 2.57 GAA in 13 career starts versus the Wild.