Oilers close road trip with 4-2 loss to Wild
|Edmonton's Tom Gilbert battles for the puck behind the Oilers net Tuesday, March 16 at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota. (Photo courtesy of Getty Images)
The Oilers kept pace with the Wild through 45 minutes and managed to out-shoot them 36-28 in 60, but up against strong goaltending from Josh Harding, the extra shots failed to net sufficient goals and the club had to settle for a 4-2 loss in Minnesota Tuesday night.
Marc Pouliot and Ryan Potulny scored for Edmonton, Sam Gagner
got helpers on both goals, and Jeff Deslauriers
stopped 24 of 28 shots in the loss.
Goalies Jeff Deslauriers
and Josh Harding had to be sharp in the first five minutes of action as both the Wild and Oilers crafted excellent scoring chances. The netminders made some stellar saves and then shared the spotlight with Zack Stortini
and John Scott, who were gunning for a fight but had to settle for roughing minors.
Minnesota held a slim shot-lead as the period progressed. With six minutes left in the frame, Owen Nolan drew a hooking penalty from Andrew Cogliano
but the home team was unable to add another attempt.
Although the Wild couldn't tally a powerplay goal, they got the same result just over a minute later. Stationed at Deslauriers' left, Andrew Ebbett caught a piece of Guillaume Latendresse's point shot and deflected it above the goalie to give Minnesota a 1-0 lead and 9-5 edge in shots heading into the second period.
The Wild added three more attempts and the Oilers one before a second visiting penalty, this time to Ryan Whitney
, put the hometown club back on the powerplay. Minnesota was more potent on this man-advantage, but Deslauriers saved his penalty killers by coming up with three big stops.
After the penalty, Edmonton's skaters helped the cause. After losing an edge and missing a shot near the Wild net, Marc Pouliot quickly recovered and cut back in on Harding. Meanwhile, defenceman Jason Strudwick
received a feed from Sam Gagner
and fired from the point. The shot went wide, but Pouliot was perfectly poised to tap it home, tying the game at one.
Cogliano and Dustin Penner
came close to giving Edmonton's its first lead when they embarked on a two-on-one, but Cogliano's pass soared over Penner's stick and the passer then soared into the end boards. Cogliano hobbled back to the bench but returned to the ice for his next shift.
The Wild topped 20 shots before the period was out, but it would take 24 for the team to find a second goal. With help from Andrew Brunette and Mikko Koivu, Antti Miettinen bumbled the puck over Deslauriers' glove, renewing his team's lead at 17:56.
Although the Oilers couldn't even the game again before the buzzer, late coincidental penalties to Marek Zidlicky and Cal Clutterbuck gave the visitors a two-man-advantage for nearly two full minutes to start the third period.
The Oilers quickly carried play into the Wild zone and at 1:14 made their five-on-three count. On Harding's blocker side, Ryan Potulny caught Gagner's pass and snapped it into the net to put the Oilers back on even terms.
But three minutes later, the Wild jumped back ahead. With Deslauriers keeping tabs on former teammate Kyle Brodziak behind the net, Chuck Kobasew spotted an opening, skated in, and directed Brodziak's quick cross-crease feed into the net, setting the score 3-2.
At 8:15, Martin Havlat doubled the difference with a wrist shot that became his 16th goal of the season.
A late powerplay, Edmonton's fifth of the game, helped the visitors crack 30 shots, but Harding kept his gate closed. Six Oilers skaters couldn't force it open before 60 minutes were up, and the club headed back to Edmonton on the heels of a 4-2 loss.
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