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.
Last night, the Nashville Predators demoralized the Ducks and advanced to their first-ever Stanley Cup Final. Will we learn their opponent tonight or on Thursday?
That’s up to how the Pittsburgh Penguins and Ottawa Senators perform in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final.
Will Sidney Crosby and the Penguins follow that 7-0 rout with a close-out performance, or will Erik Karlsson and the Senators avenge that embarrassing loss to send this series to a decisive Game 7?
Find out on NBCSN at tonight. You can also watch the game online and via the NBC Sports App.
Here’s what you need to know:
Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Ottawa Senators (Pens lead 3-2)
Time: 8:00 p.m. ET
Network: NBCSN (Stream online here)
Check out the highlights from Pittsburgh’s 7-0 win in Game 5
—Pens redefining defense by committee
—Four things the Pens need to do to eliminate the Sens
It’s an offseason of change for SHL champion HV71.
In the days following the league title, HV71 saw No. 1 goalie Linus Soderstrom sign his ELC with the Isles and d-man Andreas Borgman — the league’s rookie of the year — ink with the Leafs.
Earlier today, HV71 winger Filip Sandberg signed a two-year deal with San Jose. Shortly after that, Columbus announced it inked Sandberg’s running mate up front, Kevin Stenlund, to a three-year, entry-level deal.
Stenlund, 20, was the Blue Jackets’ second-round pick (58th overall) at the 2015 draft. He’s coming off a good year, setting career highs in goals, assists, points and games played during the regular season, then adding 10 points in 16 playoff appearances.
And he might have a chance to build on that campaign.
Per the Dispatch, the Blue Jackets expect Stenlund to play next year in Sweden, rather than try to make the move overseas. It’s possible the Isles could make the same decision with Soderstrom — meaning it’s not all bad for HV71.
The Edmonton Oilers have given winger Iiro Pakarinen a one-year contract extension.
From the release:
Pakarinen just finished his third season with the Oilers organization, appearing in 14 regular season games in 2016-17, posting four points (2 goals, 2 assists). The 25 year old forward missed 53 games due to an injury suffered during the pre-season. He appeared in one playoff game against the San Jose Sharks.
The Oilers brought Pakarinen over from Finland in 2014. Since then, he’s split his North American career between the AHL and NHL while drawing praise for his versatility and hard-nosed style.
Per CapFriendly, Pakarinen’s cap hit will be $750,000 in 2017-18. It’s a one-way deal.
Coming off an impressive performance for the Czech Republic at the World Hockey Championship, Jan Rutta is now being courted by a number of NHL clubs.
Per The Athletic, the Blackhawks are in contention for securing Rutta’s services. That comes on the heels of earlier reports from TSN’s Darren Dreger, who said there are “multiple” offers for the 26-year-old, including ones from Edmonton and Calgary.
“He’s a steady defenseman with size, and he had a strong finish of the season,” an NHL scout told The Athletic. “He was very good in the playoffs and played his best at the Worlds.”
Rutta, who was never drafted by an NHL club, has spent his professional career with Czech League outfit Pirati Chomutov. He’s blossomed into a talented offensive defenseman — finishing second among Czech League d-men with 32 points in 46 games this year — and, as mentioned above, has good size at 6-foot-3, 200 pounds.
Last week, Rutta’s agent — longtime Octagon Hockey representative Allan Walsh — tweeted that his client would make a decision on NHL offers soon.