|The Wild's Martin Havlat (left) and the Oilers Theo Peckham (R) get tangled up during NHL action last month in Edmonton. (QMI Agency file/Laura Pedersen)
EDMONTON - ST. PAUL — Tom Gilbert is still looking for a victory in his home state.
The Bloomington, Minn., native has yet to win a game with the Edmonton Oilers at the Xcel Energy Center.
On Tuesday, Gilbert and the Oilers are hoping to snap a four-year drought when they take on the Minnesota Wild.
“I’m just waiting, I always have family here and something’s got to give,” said Gilbert. “It would be a great feeling to finally win here and get to see my family after a win.
“They're always happy to see me, but it would be nice to get a win, so I don’t have to hear about it from them, too. I don’t know what it is about playing here? But we haven’t had a win in here in a while.”
Heading into Tuesday’s contest, the Edmonton Oilers have lost 14-straight games in Minnesota to the Wild, dating back to January 2007. Gilbert has been part of 13 of those losses.
“The last time we were here, they scored four power-play goals,” Gilbert said. “We were ahead in that game too, and I scored a goal. So I thought that was going to be the one.
“But you have to keep pushing through it, sometimes things like this happen, it’s hard to explain. It’s just a matter of putting in a full 60 minutes.”
The streak is the second-longest in the NHL. The Columbus Blue Jackets have not beaten the Nashville Predators, at home, in 15 games.
This is the Oilers second visit to Minnesota this season. In October, the club dropped a 4-2 decision to the Wild.
The Oilers, however, are heading into Tuesday’s contest on a three-game winning streak, while the Wild have lost three of their last four games and are without captain Mikko Koivu, who broke a finger against the Anaheim Ducks on Friday.
Nikolai Khabibulin will get the start in goal against Niklas Backstrom, who has never lost to the Oilers on home ice. The Wild goaltender is a perfect 12-0 lifetime at home against Edmonton, with a 1.16 goals against average and .955 save percentage.
“Our goaltending has been great, but in the last three games, they’ve each made at least two big saves in the first two periods and that’s made a big difference,” said Gilbert. “Our special teams have been great, we’re finally scoring power play goals. In this league, if you have good special teams, you’re going to win games by just that alone sometimes.
“Our penalty kill has been good and our power play is scoring goals and that’s a big factor, too.”