Edmonton (23-42-11) at Minnesota (36-32-8)

By MATT BEARDMORE, STATS Writer Wednesday, Mar 30, 2011 Puck Drop: 8:00 pm EDT Thu Mar 31, 2011

The Minnesota Wild are on the verge of elimination from playoff contention. A matchup with the Edmonton Oilers could help them stave off that fate for at least a little while.

The Wild look to improve their slim postseason chances Thursday night when they seek their fifth win in as many tries against the Oilers this season and 16th straight at home in the series.

A team-record eight-game losing streak, which the 11th-place Wild (36-32-8) snapped with a 3-2 shootout win over St. Louis on Wednesday, has left them all but certain to miss the playoffs for the third straight season.

“It’s just good for the guys to get a win,” forward Eric Nystrom(notes) said after Minnesota matched a club mark with its 19th road victory. “It’s really hard on us. You leave the rink and you want to leave the game there, but it just dwells on you. It’s good to feel good about ourselves.”

The Wild have struggled at home lately, dropping four straight and six of seven, but they should have plenty of confidence with the Oilers (23-42-11) coming to town. Since a 2-1 loss to Edmonton on Jan. 16, 2007, Minnesota has outscored the Oilers 54-19 while winning the last 15 matchups in St. Paul.

The Wild, who hold a 22-4 scoring edge in the third period and overtime during that stretch, recorded three third-period goals in the last meeting, a 4-1 home win Feb. 22.

Edmonton has totaled six goals in its four losses this season to Minnesota, which has gone 9-2-1 in the last 12 overall matchups.

The Oilers have lost 10 in a row, their worst skid since a 13-game slide Dec. 31, 2009-Jan. 30, 2010. With leading scorers Sam Gagner(notes), Taylor Hall(notes) and Alex Hemsky out for the rest of the season with injuries, Edmonton has managed a stunning 11 goals and gone 3 for 40 on the power play during its losing streak.

“Our guys are trying, and there are ways to score regardless of the experience on the ice or the skill level of your team,” said coach Tom Renney, whose team was outshot 18-7 in the first period of a 2-0 defeat to Los Angeles on Tuesday. “We still have an ability to score, and we need to continue to do those things better incumbent with any NHL team.”

The Oilers have scored four times during a six-game road skid.

Nikolai Khabibulin(notes), 0-5-1 with a 3.33 goals-against average in his last six starts, has posted a 3.81 GAA in losing all four matchups with the Wild this season.

Minnesota’s Niklas Backstrom(notes) is 1-8-1 with a 3.85 GAA in his last 10 starts, but he could get the nod Thursday as he is 17-2-1 with a 1.73 GAA and four shutouts against Edmonton. All four of those shutouts came at home, where Backstrom is 13-0-0 with a 1.15 GAA versus the Oilers. He made 20 saves Feb. 22.

Minnesota last won two straight during a 3-0-0 stretch Feb. 9-12.

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