Tonight at the Xcel Energy Center, Minnesota and Edmonton will face off for the sixth time this season. (Apparently the NHL wanted to get all the Wild-Oilers games out of the way before the New Year.)
For Minnesota, a matchup witht the struggling Oilers offers a great opportunity to end an eight-game losing streak that’s dropped the Wild from first to sixth in the Western Conference. All of a sudden missing the playoffs is in the conversation again, especially with Los Angeles and Calgary playing better.
The culprit? Offense. Minnesota’s managed just 10 goals during its eight-game losing streak.
Wednesday in Nashville, it took a late Dany Heatley tally to break Pekka Rinne’s shutout bid and force overtime. The Predators ended up winning 2-1 in a shootout, but Wild coach Mike Yeo was encouraged.
“For sure it was important, and not just for the sake of getting a point,” Yeo said, as per the Associated Press. “It was a reminder that if we stay with things, if we play our game for 60 minutes, then we are going to have a great chance to win the game. We didn’t win the game today, but I believe we deserved to win it.”
Suffice to say Minnesota needs to beat teams like the Oilers, particularly at home, if making the playoffs is going to happen.
The Wild hosts Phoenix Saturday, then heads out on the road for seven of nine, with tough games in Vancouver, Chicago, St. Louis and Philadelphia.