Oilers struggle in third period, lose 4-1 to Wild
|Oilers and Wild players scramble for the puck in front of Nikolai Khabibulin Tuesday, Feb. 22 at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota. The Wild won the game 4-1. (Photo courtesy of Getty Images)
After a scoreless first and evenly-matched second, the Oilers struggled in the third period, surrendering three goals enroute to a 4-1 loss to the Wild Tuesday night. Kurtis Foster
scored Edmonton's lone goal, while Nikolai Khabibulin
finished the game with 19 saves.
Under the Scope
Only 16 seconds after opening puck drop, the Oilers were put on the disadvantage when Taylor Chorney
was called for cross-checking. Edmonton excelled on the penalty kill, testing Niklas Backstrom with two shorthanded shots without allowing a single Minnesota attempt.
The two-minute stretch didn't go completely smoothly, however. The second before Chorney left the penalty box, defenceman Tom Gilbert
blocked a shot with his face and dropped to the ice. After receiving an on-ice assessment from head athletic therapist T.D. Forss, the Minnesota native got to his feet and skated back to the bench unaided. He was ready to go on his following shift.
Near the five-minute mark, another infraction, this time to Andrew Cogliano
for tripping, put the Oilers back on the penalty kill. During the Wild power-play, Khabibulin turned away his first shot and Ryan Jones
made a painful-looking block with his right ankle to keep the game scoreless. Like Gilbert, Jones was soon good to go again.
At 11:48, the power-play tables turned and Edmonton benefited from two man-advantages of their own. Penalty-killers continued to dominate, however, and the opening goal remained elusive. After 20 minutes, the Oilers led the shot count 8-5.
At the 5:55 mark of the second, Wild forward Andrew Brunette was charged with a slashing minor after severing Ladislav Smid
's stick in the defensive zone. Late in the power-play, a collision between Cal Clutterbuck and Chorney sent the young Oiler limping to the dressing room. Oilers staff later confirmed he suffered a right knee injury and would not return to the game.
The scoreless stalemate was shattered near the game's midway point. After receiving a stretch pass on the blue line, Martin Havlat slipped through an opening, descended in on Khabibulin, and cleanly beat the goaltender to give the Wild a 1-0 lead.
With just under five minutes remaining in the frame, Edmonton came close to tying it up. Poised with a juicy rebound on his stick, Jones fired on a wide-open net only to watch Backstrom steal the moment by making a miraculous mid-air glove save.
But the Oilers soon matched that performance with equally impressive plays at both ends of the ice. Not to be outdone by his goaltending counterpart, Khabibulin did a stellar job of dissolving a Wild swarm to keep his club within one. Linus Omark
and Sam Gagner
then led a rush the other way, but defenceman Foster emerged the offensive hero as the snapped home a drop-pass to tie the game at one heading into the third period.
The Oilers maintained a slim shot lead early in the final frame but the Wild quickly regained the lead where it counts. 1:28 into the period, former Oiler Kyle Brodziak beat Khabibulin with a crisp backhander, setting the score 2-1.
Four minutes later, Theo Peckham
offered the Wild their third power-play by taking a holding minor, and one minute after that, Jared Spurgeon fired a slapshot through a screen and into the net, doubling his club's lead.
A flurry of penalties resulted in alternating man-advantages, including a 91-second five-on-three for Edmonton, as the period continued. The Oilers managed four shots on the power-plays but Backstrom stopped them all.
Buoyed by the successful penalty kill, the Wild wasted no time getting back on the attack. At 14:33, Pierre-Marc Bouchard received a pass from Clutterbuck, broke in on Khabibulin, and thrilled fans with a successful spin-o-rama that put his club up 4-1.
At that point, the frustrated Oilers got caught up in fisticuffs. In front of the visiting bench, Jean-Francois Jacques
and Brad Staubitz participated in a quick scrap, netting roughing minors and game misconducts for both players. In addition, the Wild bench took a bench minor for unsportsmanlike conduct, offering the Oilers their sixth power-play. The man-advantage passed without a goal.
Edmonton's late efforts failed to close the goal gap and the team's three-game winning streak concluded with a 4-1 loss in Minnesota.
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