Wild battle Oilers; Canucks take on Stars in Western action

The Sports Network
2/21/2013 11:29:39 AM
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(Sports Network) - Minnesota Wild defenseman Tom Gilbert makes his return to Edmonton on Thursday night as his current club takes on the Oilers.

Born in Bloomington, Minnesota, the 30-year-old Gilbert was drafted in the fourth round by the Colorado Avalanche in 2002, but never played with the club before getting dealt to the Oilers on March 9, 2004.

The 6-foot-2 blueliner did skate in 384 games with Edmonton over five-plus seasons, potting 33 goals with 158 points before getting traded to Minnesota on Feb. 27 of last year for another defenseman in Nick Schultz.

Gilbert had five assists in 20 games with the Wild last season and has logged three goals and seven points in 15 games this year.

"I've had plenty of time to think about it to be honest with you," said Gilbert of his return. "It's been a while since I've been back here. We didn't get a chance to play here last year (after the trade). The lockout, obviously, made it a little longer, but I have so many great memories here.

"It's fun being a part of your first organization for six years and it's nice to be back."

Schultz, meanwhile, was a second-round pick by the Wild in 2000, and left the club as its all-time leader in games played with 743. He has five assists in 35 games with the Oilers including last season after logging 26 goals and 128 points with the Wild.

The 30-year-old will make his return to Minnesota on March 3.

Gilbert's current club is coming off a 3-2 win over the Red Wings on Sunday. Detroit seemed in control when it went up 2-0 just 20 seconds into the middle period, but Dany Heatley, Jason Zucker and Torrey Mitchell all scored in the second frame to pace the Wild.

"We got real good production from all the lines tonight," said Zucker, who scored his first career NHL goal. "This was a nice game to have because we've been playing poor lately."

Heatley's fifth goal of the season had to serve as a relief for the winger as it was his first in 10 games.

Minnesota had lost five of seven coming in and got 29 saves from backup netminder Darcy Kuemper, who got his second career start and first win after Niklas Backstrom became ill right before the contest.

Backstrom, Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Justin Falk were all sick last week but practiced Tuesday, while captain Mikko Koivu returned to the ice on Wednesday after his own bout with illness the previous day.

He should play on Thursday against the Oilers, who have lost seven of their last nine and followed up a solid 6-4 win over the Colorado Avalanche with a 3-1 setback at the hands of the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday.

Sam Gagner scored for Edmonton, which saw L.A. net the winning goal with just 49.4 seconds left in regulation. Nikolai Khabibulin gave up two goals on 37 shots in the loss.

"Kind of an unfortunate break at the end of the game there," said Gagner. "But if we were getting pucks deep and forechecking harder like we did the other night, things like that don't happen."

Edmonton will play the fourth of a five-game homestand and is 3-3-2 at the host this season.

Minnesota is 1-4-1 on the road.

The Wild have won 10 of their last 12 against the Oilers and had won five straight in Edmonton prior to a 4-1 loss there on Dec. 22, 2011.

Vancouver Canucks at Dallas Stars

(Sports Network) - The Vancouver Canucks hope to snap a season-high, three- game losing streak on Thursday night as they face off with the Dallas Stars for the second time in a week.

The Canucks' current slide comes after the club won six straight, but the last two losses have both come in a shootout. That includes a 4-3 setback in Chicago to the Blackhawks on Tuesday, two days after a home loss to the St. Louis Blues.

Vancouver earned its point versus Chicago, getting two goals late in the third -- Alexander Edler with 2:42 left in the frame and Kevin Bieksa with 1:01 on the clock -- to tie the game. Daniel Sedin also scored and Cory Schneider made 40 saves before giving up a pair of goals in the shootout.

The Canucks' Jannik Hansen took a roughing penalty early in the third following a collision with the Blackhawks' Marian Hossa. He hit the Chicago winger with an elbow to the head on the play and Hossa remained on the ice for a bit before skating off under his own power.

"It was a loose puck and he kind of got to it first," said Hansen. "I think I kind of grazed him on the back of his shoulders and then he goes down. But I don't see what happens after that because the play was still going on."

The league disagreed on Wednesday, hitting Hansen with a one-game suspension and he'll miss the second contest of a four-game road trip tonight.

Vancouver's losing streak began with a 4-3 home loss to Dallas on Friday, a defeat that spoiled Henrik Sedin becoming the team's all-time leader in points. He had a pair of assists to pass Markus Naslund (756 points), but the Stars' Brenden Dillon netted the game-winner with 3:01 left in the third.

Richard Bachman replaced an injured Kari Lehtonen in the first period and stopped 18-of-21 shots en route to the victory, just the Stars' third in their last 11 versus the Canucks.

They have also lost four of their past five at home against Vancouver.

Bachman had given up six goals on 22 shots in a loss to the Flames two days earlier and then got the start in the rematch with Calgary on Sunday after Lehtonen was placed on injured reserve because of a groin injury. Bachman struggled again, giving up four goals on 26 shots, including three in the third period after the Stars had gone up by two thanks to three goals of their own in the second.

"It's very disappointing, very disappointing that we didn't come out with two points here at home," Dallas coach Glen Gulutzan said. "We needed to be stronger in front of our net."

Antoine Roussel, Reilly Smith and Ryan Garbutt all scored in defeat as Dallas suffered just its second setback in eight games. Both came against Calgary.

"It's tough to swallow when you're going into the third period winning by two goals," Smith said. "It's very frustrating."

Dallas also lost defenseman Trevor Daley to a neck injury and he may sit out this game. That led to the Stars recalling blueliner Jordie Benn as well as forward Matt Fraser from the AHL on Wednesday.

Benn, who has played in 11 NHL games, has 21 points in 40 minor league games this season, while Fraser was tied for third in the AHL with 24 goals (13 on the power play) at the time of his call-up.

Cristopher Nilstorp is expected to make his third career start for the Stars on Thursday. He has lost his previous two with a 2.70 goals against average and .918 save percentage.

Nick Schultz (Photo: Derek Leung/Getty Images)


(Photo: Derek Leung/Getty Images)
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