After falling behind early in back-to-back home losses to Buffalo and Carolina, the Edmonton Oilers will be looking for a quick start when they face the Minnesota Wild on Thursday night in Saint Paul, Minn.
The Oilers, who have lost five of their past seven and just finished a 1-2-1 homestand with a 6-3 loss to Carolina on Tuesday night, still enter the contest tied for first place in the Pacific Division with the Arizona Coyotes, both of whom have identical 18-11-4 records.
Edmonton fell behind 2-0 in the first period in an eventual 3-2 overtime loss to Buffalo on Sunday and then trailed 3-0 to the Hurricanes after 20 minutes on Tuesday. The Oilers rallied to tie that contest, 3-3, on a Zack Kassian goal at the 5:40 mark of the third period but Carolina answered with three goals over a six-minute span to win going away.
"We put ourselves behind the eight-ball," said Connor McDavid, who assisted on all three Edmonton goals and leads the NHL in points with 55 (19 goals, 36 assists). "I liked how we battled back. I thought our game was pretty good overall 5-on-5, but special teams weren't where it needed to be it cost us."
Edmonton converted just one of its five power-play chances while also yielding three power-play goals.
"Not good enough," McDavid said of earning just three of a possible eight points during the homestand. "We needed to find a couple more wins, and we didn't. So we need to go out on the road and find a big one in Minnesota and come back and defend home ice again."
Minnesota is 7-0-3 in its past 10 home games, including a 3-2 shootout loss to Anaheim on Tuesday night. That the Wild were able to claim even one point was remarkable since they were outshot 14-1 while falling behind 2-0 in the first period.
Minnesota, which had just four shots on goal in the first 28 1/2 minutes, rallied to tie it on goals by Ryan Hartman and Ryan Donato but failed to convert on power plays at the end of regulation and also in overtime before falling in the shootout.
"Nothing compares to what we did in the first period," Minnesota coach Bruce Boudreau said. "The whole night was pretty frustrating, quite frankly. To start out that first period like that, to get one shot on goal at home, it's pretty embarrassing. And I told the guys that."
Minnesota, which began the season with just one win in its first seven games and 3-7-0 in its first 10 games, has bounced back to go 11-5-5 since and is tied with Nashville for fifth place in the Central Division with 33 points.
"Our first 10 games weren't very good with the won-loss record, but nothing compares to what we did in the first period," Boudreau said. "We weren't skating. We just didn't win any battles. ... Every time there was a competition for a puck, they came up with it.
"You look at the silver lining and you get a point out of that, OK. But if you expect to win, and you want to win all the time, one point isn't enough."
This is the second of three meetings between the two teams. Minnesota won the first one, 3-0, on Oct. 22 in Saint Paul, Minn.