Originally posted on Fox Sports North  |  Last updated 12/29/11
ANDY LEFKOWITZ STATS Writer Though the Minnesota Wild are mired in one of the worst skids in franchise history, first-year coach Mike Yeo is staying upbeat. Looking to avoid setting a franchise record with their ninth straight loss, the Wild meet the last-place Edmonton Oilers on Thursday night for the sixth and final time this season. Minnesota's skid grew to eight - matching the club's longest set from March 10-26 - with a 2-1 shootout loss to Nashville on Wednesday. Dany Heatley tied it with 3:59 left in regulation, but neither Matt Cullen, Mikko Koivu nor Pierre-Marc Bouchard could end the slide in the tiebreaker. Yeo was pleased, nonetheless. "For sure it was important, and not just for the sake of getting a point," he said. "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." Minnesota has scored just 10 goals during its skid, a sharp drop from the 24 it tallied during a seven-game winning streak from Nov. 28-Dec. 10 that preceded the slide. The Wild, who have taken the season series from Edmonton each of the last six years, are 3-2-0 against the Oilers this season with all the wins coming in shootouts. They lead the series despite having been outscored 13-7. Heatley and Devin Setoguchi have led the way with two goals apiece. While Heatley is tied with ex-Oiler Kyle Brodziak for the team lead with 11 goals, Setoguchi (eight goals) has been sidelined since Dec. 7 with a lower-body injury. After Josh Harding started in Nashville, Niklas Backstrom will likely be back in net and looking to raise his home record to 16-0-0 all-time against the Oilers while ending his recent struggles. Backstrom, who defeated Edmonton 2-1 in a shootout on October 13 in Minnesota, has a 1.19 goals-against average and four career shutouts at home when facing the Oilers. However, he's gone 0-4-2 overall since beating Phoenix on Dec. 10. Edmonton (15-17-3) opened a season-high seven-game road trip with Monday's 5-3 loss to Vancouver. The Oilers trailed 3-0 after one period and eventually fell for the 10th time in 13 games (3-9-1). Though Edmonton has dropped to the bottom of the division, Yeo won't look ahead. "We've got a big challenge (Thursday). Edmonton is sitting there, waiting for us, so we have to be ready to go," he said. Edmonton, which is in the middle of the pack with 95 goals, may have veteran winger Ales Hemsky back in the lineup. Hemsky, who missed 11 games earlier this season with a right shoulder injury, hasn't played since Dec. 19 due to the flu. "We're off the pace here a little bit and we want to make sure that we stay with the pack, and all we know is we need Ales Hemsky back in our lineup playing," coach Tom Renney said. Hemsky has three goals with eight assists in 22 games this season. Jordan Eberle, who had a goal and assist in the loss to the Canucks, leads Edmonton with 16 goals and 38 points. He's notched three goals and four assists versus Minnesota this season while Ryan Smyth and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins have chipped in with three goals apiece. Despite posting a 2-0-3 record against the Wild in 2011-12, Nikolai Khabibulin has surrendered just seven goals for a 1.33 GAA and should start the season series finale. Khabibulin has dropped five of his last six road starts and is 3-5-1 with a 2.56 GAA away from home this season.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Report: ‘Multiple’ teams open to giving Noel max contract

Tiger Woods arrested on DUI charges

Report: Clippers ‘overwhelming favorite’ to keep Chris Paul

Giants owner: Signing Kaepernick would anger fans

Mike Trout to undergo MRI after suffering thumb injury

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

John Wall: Bench was cause of Wizards’ ‘downfall’

Arum says Pacquiao would fight McGregor if Mayweather won't

Aaron Judge hits first grand slam of his career

David Stern: Lakers could have had Chris Paul, GM panicked

Brandon Jacobs vows to 'expose' Jim Harbaugh, get him fired

Mike Zimmer won’t retire even if right eye goes blind

The 'Hope your Cup runneth over this Memorial Day' quiz

Meet your Stanley Cup finalists: Nashville Predators

Getaway Day: There's a murderer's row in the NL West

Journey to the Stanley Cup Final: Pittsburgh Penguins

Best of Yardbarker: Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines

The Rewind: Vince Carter's graduation day celebration that wasn't

Manu Ginobili gave life to the San Antonio Spurs

Why the Indianapolis 500 is called 'the greatest spectacle in racing'

Stanley Cup Final: A David vs. Goliath matchup that's not as lopsided as it may appear

The 'More like Whiffer, Texas Ranger...amirite?' quiz

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

Box Score 5/26: Bring on the Finals

NHL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

The 'Hope your Cup runneth over this Memorial Day' quiz

Meet your Stanley Cup finalists: Nashville Predators

Getaway Day: There's a murderer's row in the NL West

Journey to the Stanley Cup Final: Pittsburgh Penguins

Best of Yardbarker: Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines

The 'More like Whiffer, Texas Ranger...amirite?' quiz

Stanley Cup Final: A David vs. Goliath matchup that's not as lopsided as it may appear

Manu Ginobili gave life to the San Antonio Spurs

The Rewind: Vince Carter's graduation day celebration that wasn't

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker