Western Conference front-runners meet when Oilers host Wild

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Two of the top teams in the Western Conference will face off when the Minnesota Wild visit the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday night.

Minnesota is riding a six-game winning streak and has registered at least one point in seven consecutive games. The Wild have not lost in regulation since Nov. 20 against the Florida Panthers.

The red-hot stretch has helped the Wild tally 35 points in their first 24 games.

“You’re going to have to battle and win some games (in) different ways,” Wild defenseman Matt Dumba said after his team’s most recent victory, a 4-3 shootout win over the Toronto Maple Leafs. “You can’t just blow teams out all the time and just get easy wins.

“You’ve got to battle, you’ve got to have comebacks, a little adversity, and how our team has faced that all season has been awesome. Very proud of it.”

Now comes another tough challenge against Edmonton to kick off a four-game road trip for Minnesota.

The Oilers are coming off back-to-back losses against the Seattle Kraken and Los Angeles Kings, but they remain near the top of the conference standings with 32 points in their first 23 games. Edmonton boasts a 9-2-0 record on home ice.

Despite the team’s positive big-picture results, Oilers head coach Dave Tippett challenged his players after their 5-1 defeat to the Kings, which marked Edmonton’s most lopsided loss of the season.

“There are parts of our games that aren’t good enough right now,” Tippett said. “There’s some puck battle stuff, some wall battle stuff, some execution with the puck, things that allow you to play a lot harder and a lot faster, and we’re not doing enough of that right now. Our puck play is slow. Too many battles, we end up chasing pucks, and that’s been going on for a long time now.”

Leon Draisaitl leads Edmonton with 43 points (21 goals, 22 assists) and a plus-15 rating in 23 games. Connor McDavid is right behind Draisaitl with 42 points (16 goals, 26 assists) and a plus-9 rating.

Zach Hyman is the Oilers’ third player with double-digit goals. He has lit the lamp 11 times.

As for the Wild, Kirill Kaprizov sits atop the scoring list with 29 points (nine goals, 20 assists) in 24 games. Ryan Hartman is next with 21 points, including a team-high 13 goals, and Mats Zuccarello rounds out the top three with 18 points (seven goals, 11 assists).

Cam Talbot has started 18 of Minnesota’s first 24 games. He is 13-5-0 with a 2.71 goals-against average and a .915 save percentage.

Edmonton’s primary goaltender has been Mikko Koskinen. He is 12-3-0 with a 2.97 GAA and .911 save percentage in 15 games (14 starts).

This is the first of three regular-season meetings between the Wild and Oilers. They will face off again in Edmonton on Jan. 12, and they will meet in Minnesota on April 12.

Wild forward Jordan Greenway is hoping that he and his teammates can carry their confidence from Saturday’s win over the Maple Leafs with them to Edmonton.

“I think we’re definitely showing everyone and ourselves that we can play with anyone,” he said.

–Field Level Media

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