The Wild host the Northwest Division rival Oilers for the first time this season Wednesday night, looking for their 11th straight home win in the series.
Minnesota (17-16-3) seemed to turn things around following a slow start before losing its last two contests, 4-3 at home to Colorado on Monday after a 4-1 defeat at Ottawa on Saturday.
Three Wild players fell ill shortly before Saturday’s game and were unable to play, and those who did take the ice had to use mostly replacement gear after a fire destroyed much of the team’s equipment in a van. On Monday, a strange bounce off the end boards led to Colorado’s goal which turned out to be the game-winner.
This is the first time Minnesota has lost consecutive games since a four-game skid Nov. 12-18.
“We started to unravel a little bit and the emotions got a little high and we were focused on other things, a bit distracted,” coach Todd Richards said.
Minnesota and Backstrom, though, should have a good chance to bounce back given how outstanding they have been against the Oilers in St. Paul.
The Wild have won 10 in a row at home over Edmonton, outscoring the Oilers 36-11, and Backstrom has been a big reason for that success. He has started all of those games and has recorded four of his 18 career shutouts in that 10-contest span.
Backstrom is 13-1-0 with a 1.69 goals-against average overall facing the Oilers (15-17-4), who enter with a Western Conference-low 34 points.
He did not start the teams’ only matchup this season, a 5-2 Minnesota loss at Edmonton on Oct. 16.
Oilers goalie Nikolai Khabibulin(notes) made 29 saves in that game but he remains sidelined with back spasms. Jeff Deslauriers had started 14 straight games in his place before Devan Dubnyk(notes) made his first NHL start in a 7-2 defeat to St. Louis on Monday.
The loss was Edmonton’s fourth straight. Deslauriers had started the first three, giving up 13 goals, and Dubnyk didn’t do much better Monday, allowing four goals in the second period alone.
“He was kind of left out to hang by his teammates,” coach Pat Quinn said of Dubnyk. “We’ve been doing that all season.”
Deslauriers could be back in net Wednesday. He has yet to face the Wild, but being back on the road could help. Prior to his three-game losing streak in which all the defeats came at home, he had won five in a row - all on the road - while posting a 1.94 GAA.
The Oilers haven’t lost five straight since going 0-4-1 from Oct. 22-30, 2008.