(Updated: CORRECTS Stalock’s shutout total in ABOUT THE WILD)
The Minnesota Wild have matched their longest winning streak of the season and take aim at their fifth consecutive victory when they host Connor McDavid and the struggling Edmonton Oilers in a Saturday matinee. The Wild, who have also won five straight games at home, have captured three in a row and five of their last six against the Oilers.
Defense and goaltending have sparked the recent turnaround for Minnesota, which has yielded 13 goals during its 6-1-0 tear after surrendering 13 in back-to-back losses at St. Louis and Winnipeg. “Everybody’s smiling. Everybody’s having fun,” said goaltender Alex Stalock after blanking Toronto 2-0 on Thursday. “It’s an atmosphere here where everybody’s having a good time.” Just the opposite holds true for Edmonton, which was shut out for the second time in three games despite unleashing 46 shots on goal in a 4-0 setback to Nashville. “We know the reality of the spot we’re in but our game, especially in the last four games, is trending in the right way,” forward Milan Lucic insisted. “We have to build on that more than the loss here tonight.”
TV: 2 p.m. ET, Sportsnet West (Edmonton), FSN North (Minnesota)
ABOUT THE OILERS (13-17-2): Edmonton’s Jekyll-and-Hyde season is typified by its 3-3-0 mark in December — the Oilers scored 20 goals in the three wins while torching a pair of Vezina Trophy-winning netminders, only to score three in the three losses while getting blanked by two backup goalies. “It’s weird. We score six goals, then the next game we score zero,” lamented forward Patrick Maroon. “Then the next game we score seven, and the next game, zero.” No. 1 netminder Cam Talbot will get the start after he was activated off injured reserve Friday.
ABOUT THE WILD (17-11-3): Thursday started with the gloomy news that starting netminder Devan Dubnyk is “week-to-week” due to a lower-body injury sustained in Tuesday’s win, but Stalock helped soothe any angst by registering his fifth career shutout against high-scoring Toronto. “Every time he’s in there, you want to make sure you play hard for him,” defenseman Ryan Suter said. “You want to do the same for Duby, but a little extra when your main guy goes down.” Minnesota’s power play has converted on 1 of 15 chances over the last eight games.
1. Wild D Jared Spurgeon (strained groin), who has missed eight games in a row, was termed a game-time decision by coach Bruce Boudreau.
2. McDavid, who has 21 points in 17 road games, has two goals and an assist in six contests versus Minnesota.
3. Wild F Zach Parise, who has yet to play this season, participated in his first full practice Friday but has non been cleared for contact.
PREDICTION: Oilers 4, Wild 3