The Edmonton Oilers scored early thanks to a goal by Taylor Hall 1:24 in but a strong second period from the Minnesota Wild that included two goals in 19 seconds led to the home side pulling a 4-3 victory on Thursday night.
Hall had two points on the night to lead all Oilers skaters. The other goals were scored by Shawn Horcoff and Ladislav Smid.
It only took the Oilers 1:24 to get on the board as Jordan Eberle centered a pass to Taylor Hall who was driving to the net. Hall got a stick on it, pushing it past Backstrom for an early 1-0 lead.
A broken play almost led to Edmonton's second of the game with 10:38 to play in the first. Zidlicky stumbled at the blueline which forced Backstrom to come out and play it. He dished it to his blueliner out of harm's way as Ryan Smyth was charging hard at the puck but the Wild were unable to clear it. Hemsky got a hold of it and Backstrom got spun around but the Oilers couldn't convert.
In the latter half of the opening period, the two sides played four-on-four hockey for a total of four minutes after coincidental penalties first to Ladislav Smid and Cal Clutterbuck and then three minutes later to Nate Prosser and Taylor Hall.
During the second four-on-four, the Wild struck to tie the game up at 1-1. After a near-miss at the Wild end, Mikko Koivu wristed the puck from the high slot past Khabibulin.
Sparks started to fly with two minutes left in the period. Theo Peckham tried to lay into Brad Staubitz but missed and plunged into the Oilers bench. There was an exchange in front of the bench between Staubitz, Matt Kassian, Peckham and Eager among others. The result was a penalty to both Peckham and Staubitz and more four-on-four hockey. Eager and Kassian each received 10-minute misconducts.
Shots on goal after 20 minutes was 10 to 9 in favour of the Wild.
4:36 into the middle frame, Koivu received a four-minute penalty for high sticking giving the Oilers the first power play on either side on the night.
The man advantage was cut short with 55 seconds to go when Nugent-Hopkins received two minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct.
Several minutes after the RNH penalty expired, the Wild scored to take a 2-1 lead then 19 seconds later scored again to make it 3-1.
Jarod Palmer took advantage of a neutral-zone turnover and skated in on a two-on-one. He elected to shoot and beat Khabibulin with a wrister from the right circle for his first career NHL goal.
19 seconds later, Pierre-Marc Bouchard brought the puck up ice and snapped it short side from near the same location as Palmer.
Several minutes after the goal, Matt Kassian and Darcy Hordichuk dropped the gloves. Kassian got the majority of the shots in, downing Darcy decisively in the bout.
Hemsky came close to getting the Oilers back into it, wristing a shot from the right circle but it rang off the post behind Backstrom, keeping it a two-goal game.
With 5:20 to go, Ladislav Smid scored to make it a one-goal deficit. Hall made a nice pass off the side boards right over to the Oilers blueliner perched just to the right of Backstrom. Smid made no mistake, tapping it into the empty cage for the goal.
Less than a minute later, Dany Heatley found a loose puck to the side of the Oilers net and popped it in to regain the Wild's two-goal lead at 4-2.
Shots after two periods were 19 to 18 for Minnesota.
The final frame began with a bang when Hordichuk and Kassian dropped the gloves for round two. Kassian again won the decision but Hordichuk did better, getting some good shots in on the Wild enforcer.
Devan Dubnyk started the period in goal for the Oilers.
6:40 into the third, Shawn Horcoff scored on a wrister from the high slot that eluded Backstrom. The goal made it a 4-3 game.
Nugent-Hopkins had an opportunity to tie the game with about eight minutes to play. He had the puck in the slot but his wrister went over the net with a sprawling Backstrom down on the ice.