The Oilers look to bounce back from an embarrassing defeat and earn their first win in 13 tries against Backstrom when they host Minnesota on Friday in a matchup of Northwest Division teams with identical records.
Edmonton (24-20-3) entered the All-Star break having won three straight and five of six, but that momentum came to a crashing halt Tuesday with an ugly 10-2 loss to Buffalo.
“It was a debacle of monumental proportions,” coach Craig MacTavish said.
Dwayne Roloson allowed three goals on eight shots before he was replaced by rookie Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers midway through the first period. The Sabres had a 4-0 lead before Erik Cole put Edmonton on the board 13:23 into the second period.
The loss surpassed a 9-2 defeat to Chicago last month as the worst home loss in franchise history. The Oilers entered Tuesday having allowed 60 goals in 22 home games this season.
“We didn’t think that this could happen to us again,” defenseman Steve Staios said. “Especially the way that we were playing of late. Hopefully the experience we have from trying to shake it off last time is the way to do it because we started playing better and got ourselves into a playoff position. You can’t sugarcoat how tough a night it was but we have to put this behind us quickly and move on.”
Bouncing back won’t be easy, however, especially with Backstrom in net. Backstrom made 20 saves in a 5-1 home victory over the Oilers on Jan. 15 and improved to 10-0 with a 1.58 goals-against average and three shutouts in 12 appearance against the Oilers.
Although he didn’t get much of a break during All-Star weekend, appearing in Sunday’s game, Backstrom didn’t show any signs of fatigue in Minnesota’s 6-1 win over Toronto on Tuesday, stopping 27 shots to improve to 7-3-0 with a 1.86 GAA in his last 10 starts.
The offensive outburst by one of the NHL’s lowest-scoring teams continued their improvement that began before the All-Star break. Minnesota (24-20-3), which came in last in the NHL in even strength goals, averaged 2.4 goals overall in its first 41 games this season but has averaged 3.8 in the last six. The six goals - all even strength - on Tuesday matched a season high.
Minnesota has won four of six.
“That’s huge,” said Andrew Brunette, who has two goals and six assists in his last six games. “For us, to feel good that we can score some goals and make some plays and gain some confidence before we go to a couple of tough places to play, getting even strength goals is huge.”
The Wild made a minor trade Thursday, acquiring forward Dan Fritsche from the New York Rangers for defenseman Erik Reitz. Fritsche had a goal and three assists in 16 games with the Rangers this season.
Edmonton has lost its last two meetings with Minnesota but has won three of the last four at home.