Oilers tame Wild 5-2
|Edmonton's J.F. Jacques celebrates after Gilbert Brule's first goal Friday night vs. Minnesota. The Oilers went on to win 5-2. (Photo by Andy Devlin / Edmonton Oilers Hockey Club)
by Jen Sharpe | edmontonoilers.com
For the fourth straight game, the Oilers were outshot by their opponents Friday night, but for the third time in that stretch, the club came away with two points regardless. Backed by 29 saves from Nikolai Khabibulin
and buoyed by two goals each for Dustin Penner
and Gilbert Brule
, Edmonton tamed Minnesota 5-2 at Rexall Place. Mike Comrie scored Edmonton's first goal of the night to round out the scorers.
Less than two minutes into the contest, Minnesota center Andy Hilman was called for delay of game and Edmonton benefited from the game's first powerplay. Although the home team was unable to test goalie Josh Harding during the man-advantage, they tallied four shots shortly thereafter before the Wild got one on the clock.
In the final six minutes of the frame, Shane Hnidy plowed J.F. Jacques, triggering the wrath of three Oilers. After a short scuffle, Hnidy headed to the penalty box to serve a boarding minor.
Minnesota's penalty killers smothered another powerplay, and Harding's right post then stopped an excellent scoring chance by Gilbert Brule
, resulting in a scoreless period that totalled only nine shots on net.
The Oilers came out strong in the middle frame, and it didn't take long for the effort to show on the scoreboard. In a textbook play, Mike Comrie backhanded the puck to Robert Nilsson, who returned the favour by passing it back to Comrie as he closed in on the net. The Edmonton native then completed the give-and-take by snapping the puck past Harding to make it 1-0 Oilers.
Minnesota doubled Edmonton's five shots after the goal, but netminder Nikolai Khabibulin
turned away each attempt to keep his club up by one. At 6:26, the challenge increased when Jason Strudwick
was called for cross checking, but the Wild's powerplay was as productive as the Oilers' first two chances and the visitors' goose-egg persisted.
As the period progressed, the Oilers found their eighth shot and second goal. In a commanding display of patience and stickhandling, Patrick O'Sullivan swept behind the net and fired a quick blind pass across the crease. Perfectly poised at the opposite side, Dustin Penner
one-timed into the open net to make it 2-0.
But the Wild quickly responded. Although Khabibulin made an initial save on Eric Belanger, Benoit Pouliot found the rebound in a crowd and lifted it over the goalie to get Minnesota on the board and back within one.
In the frame's final minute, however, Edmonton got that one back. With the Oilers swarming his crease, Harding attempted to cover up the puck. But Gilbert Brule
plugged for the disc and sent it sliding across the line to put the Oilers up two goals but down nine shots after 40 minutes.
20 seconds into the third, Jacques took a slashing penalty, but the Oilers resisted that powerplay to keep their two-goal cushion.
The club was not as successful on their next infraction, however. With Shawn Horcoff
serving a holding penalty, Andrew Brunette took advantage of a chaotic crease by backhanding the resting puck over Khabibulin to make it 3-2 with 16 minutes left to play.
The Wild approached 30 shots in the game's final 10 minutes, and though the Oilers trailed significantly, they made their 15th attempt count. With help from Lubomir Visnovsky and Sam Gagner
, Penner completed an end-to-end rush by tipping in Gagner's shot for his second of the game and a 4-2 Oilers lead.
Less than two minutes later, Brule joined the two-goal club. Harding tried desperately to keep the puck out of the net, but the young goalie had trouble controlling his rebounds and watched Brule snap one into the net to make it 5-2.
Although the Wild finished with 31 shots, 12 more than the Oilers, they finished three goals shy, giving the Oilers an extra two points in the Northwest Division standings.
|Three star selections