Edmonton's Shawn Horcoff, Ryan Smyth & Sam Gagner celebrate No. 94's opening-period goal during action between the Oilers & Wild at Rexall Place on Dec. 22, 2011 (Photo by Dylan Lynch / Edmonton Oilers Hockey Club).
With the win, the Oilers' record improves to 15-16-3 for 33 points on the season; the orange and blue continue to rank 12th in the NHL's Western Conference.
The Oilers now get a three-day holiday break before returning to action on Boxing Day vs. the Canucks in Vancouver. Game time is8:00 p.m. MT and it can be seen on Sportsnet West.
Jordan Eberle scored twice, while Ryan Smyth and Lennart Petrell also tallied, propelling the Oilers to a commanding lead that would never be relinquished. Minnesota's Dany Heatley scored in the third to cut the lead to three, but it wasn't enough as the Oilers got back on track with a 4-1 win over the Wild Thursday night at Rexall Place.
2:20 into the game, Minnesota was the recipient of the game's best scoring chance when Clayton Stoner cranked Nikolai Khabibulin's glove-side post with a bullet from the point.
Moments later, bursting up-ice with a determined boost, Ben Eager was hooked by Wild centre Warren Peters in the neutral zone, putting the home side's 20.6-percent power-play to work.
It was the Wild who got the best opportunity, however, when Taylor Hall stumbled in open ice, springing Matt Cullen on a breakaway. Tom Gilbert raced back and legally broke up the play, keeping the game knotted as the Oilers' man-advantage passed without a shot.
At 8:10, Darcy Hordichuk bumped Wild starter Niklas Backstrom, drawing a questionable goaltender interference minor. Like the orange and blue's earlier attempt, Minnesota's advantage passed without a shot; and, soon enough, the Oilers went back to the PP at 10:37 when Stoner was sent back to the box to serve a tripping minor.
This time, the Oilers generated two shots on Backstrom, extending to a 10-2 advantage overall but were unable to cash on either.
A delay of game minor to Minnesota's Justin Falk put the Oilers back on the power-play late in the period, and this time they made good. On the home side's 13th shot, Jordan Eberle curled from the side-boards, danced around Nick Schultz and sniped a wrister on Backstrom's blocker side to secure a 1-0 lead at 15:57.
Four shots and 2:21 later, the Oilers extended to a 2-0 advantage. Ryan Smyth snapped an 11-game goalless drought, scoring with a wraparound at 18:36 to mark his 13th of the season.
With 11.4 seconds on the clock, Taylor Hall was sprung on a breakaway and was hauled down by Stoner as he continued his aggressive opening period. No. 4 was awarded a penalty shot, but his backhand-forehand move was athletically turned aside by Backstrom.
With 20 minutes in the books, the Oilers continued to lead 2-0 and were up with a commanding 20-3 lead on the shot clock.
Minnesota's 0-for-1 power-play went to work at puck drop, as Ben Eager was assessed a boarding minor at 20:00 of the opening period. Once more, it was the shorthanded squad that peppered the opponent; the Oilers scored with 21 seconds remaining in No. 55's minor, as Lennart Petrell busted in and ripped a shot over Backstrom's glove to set the score 3-0.
The Oilers wasted no time in extending this lead, too. At 2:56, Jordan Eberle picked up a loose puck and deked through the zone, curling around Backstrom and tucking away his second of the night to put the home side up by a commanding 4-0 score.
At this point in the game, the Oilers had scored four goals while the Wild had mustered a mere three shots.
Even with the game's tilted shot clock, Nikolai Khabibulin was assigned to come up big near the eight-minute mark. Matt Cullen spotted Dany Heatley all alone in the slot, but the veteran 'tender blocked the enemy's point-blank shot to keep the Oilers' four-goal lead intact.
A too many men penalty to the Wild at 10:29 put the Oilers back to the man-advantage. Edmonton pushed hard for a fifth, but were unable to crack Backstrom with an additional three tallies on the shot clock.
Prior to the period's conclusion, the Wild went on an 11-0 run in shots and were rewarded with a late-period power-play when Sam Gagner was issued a double-minor for high-sticking when he nipped Minnesota's Pierre-Marc Bouchard.
The Oilers' 4-0 lead and 29-16 edge in shots carried into the third; so, too, did 3:01 of Minnesota's third power-play.
Khabibulin was up to the task, stopping a pair of point-blank chances late in the Wild's power-play to preserve his club's lead; but with 12 seconds remaining in Gagner's double-minor, Petrell crunched Marek Zidlicky from behind and violently into the boards, earning a major penalty and a game misconduct.
Minnesota added six shots to their total during the extended advantage, but nothing too dangerous as the home side's lead continued to grace the board; momentarily, mind you, as Dany Heatley scored moments later on a screen-shot from the side-boards to get the Wild within three at 7:57.
The Wild continued to press, striking a comeback on the shot clock (31-31), but it wasn't enough as the Oilers cruised to a 4-1 win.