NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Thursday, February 21st
(All times Eastern)
Minnesota Wild (7-6-2) at Edmonton Oilers (6-6-3), 9:30 p.m.
(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.
02/21 10:52:19 ET