Oilers catch-up game falls short 4-2 in Minnesota
|Minnesota's Josh Harding tries to prevent Marc Pouliot from forcing home the puck Thursday night at Xcel Energy Center. The Wild went on to beat the Oilers 4-2. (Photo courtesy of Getty Images)
Despite giving up a go-ahead goal to MInnesota in both the second and third periods, Edmonton did a good job of quickly evening the score on both occasions.
The Oilers had a good chance to take their first lead when Wild goalie Josh Harding suffered an injury in the last 10 minutes of regulation, but the home team had other plans: rookie back-up Anton Khudobin stopped all nine shots faced, and Guillaume Latendresse and Martin Havlat added a late goal each to give Minnesota a 4-2 win Thursday night.
Mike Comrie and Marc Pouliot scored Edmonton's two goals, while goalie Jeff Deslauriers
made 32 saves in the loss.
Deslauriers and Harding made three stops each before a tripping minor to Shawn Horcoff
gave Minnesota the game's first powerplay. The Wild dominated the Oilers for the two minutes but Deslauriers turned away all four powerplay shots.
The Oilers received little reprieve as the period progressed. At the 12-minute mark, defenceman Denis Grebeshkov was called for high-sticking but his team killed the second two-minute test to keep the opening goal off the clock.
The two powerplays helped the Wild assume a 15-7 shot lead, which the Oilers narrowed to 15-10 during their first powerplay at the tail end of the period. Despite all the attempts, neither club could break the goalies and the scoreless game stretched into the second period.
The Oilers powerplay came to an end early in the middle frame, and shortly after the return of five-on-five, the Wild made it 1-0. Poised at the top of Deslauriers' crease, Havlat tapped a rebound past the goalie to get the game's first lead.
But five minutes and two Minnesota penalties later, Edmonton got that one back. Although the Oil couldn't beat Harding during Owen Nolan's tripping minor, one minute after Comrie drew a cross-checking penalty from Marek Zidlicky, the Edmonton native tied the game with a powerplay wrister.
Edmonton's penalty-killing success continued through a slashing minor to Jean-Francois Jacques
, and the clubs extended their 1-1 stalemate past 40 minutes.
The Wild were on fire to start the third, and less than four minutes in, the Oilers got burned. With help from Mikko Koivu, Antti Miettinen beat Deslauriers on his team's sixth shot of the frame to renew the home lead.
But like in the second, the Oilers took five minutes to get back on even terms. Stubbornly situated at Harding's right, Pouliot attracted a crowd but managed to prod the puck between the goalie's skate and post, tying the game at two with 11:19 left in regulation.
Following the goal, Pouliot and linemate Jacques nearly gave the Oilers their first lead of the game, but Harding dove across the net to make the save. Although the play preserved the tie game, the acrobatic display injured the goalie's hip and put rookie Khudobin between the pipes.
Edmonton tried to spook the newbie goalie, but Minnesota regained control of the play and then the lead. At the opposite end of the ice, Latendresse danced in on Deslauriers, skirted the crease, and put his team back on top with a smooth backhand.
The Oilers were finally able to test Khudobin when they benefited from their fourth powerplay, but the rookie aced his first NHL exam by maintaining his club's lead.
With under three minutes left on the clock, Latendresse and Havlat did their part to help the youngster by adding an insurance goal to the home tally.
The Oilers pulled Deslauriers in the final minute, but six skaters couldn't catch the Wild for a third time and Edmonton took a 4-2 loss in Minnesota Thursday night.
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