Second period surge gets Wild out of skid
The Minnesota Wild used a three goal second period to snap an eight-game losing streak Thursday at the Xcel Energy Center.
The Edmonton Oilers put on a late charge, but the Wild held the Oilers without a great scoring chance in the final five minutes of the game. The Wild’s strong defensive play included an Oiler power play for the final minute and a half. A pulled goaltender gave the Oilers a 6-on-4 advantage.
“We really needed a win,” Wild rookie forward Jarod Palmer said. “I think everybody was biting at the bit. It was awesome to take part in that and help the team out.”
Palmer went undrafted and signed with the Wild a year and a half ago after completing his college eligibility. Thursday, he scored his first career NHL goal, which could be the biggest the team has scores this season.
His shot over the glove of Nikolai Khabibulin at the 10:02 mark of the second period gave the Wild the lead for good.
Just 19 seconds after Palmer scored on a 2-on-1 rush, Pierre-Marc Bouchard took advantage of a similar situation to beat Khabibulin.
The Oilers (15-18-3) stayed in the game and cut the deficit to one at the 14:40 mark of the second period with a backdoor play moments after former Wild draft pick Ryan Jones ran over Backstrom,
Zidlicky finished with three assists. His defensive partner Greg Zanon contributed with a pair of assists.
The Wild (21-12-6) won for the 13th time when allowing the first goal of the game (no other team has more than 10 such wins) after allowing Taylor Hall to get the Oilers on the board just one minute and 24 seconds into the game.
Mikko Koivu got the Wild on the board late in the first when he took a drop pass from Zidlicky and weaved his way to the slot. From there, he fired a shot past Khabibulin.
The two completed their eight matchups this season (six regular and two preseason games) with an intense battle that continued past the final horn.
Backstrom took exception to Oilers forward Ryan Smyth’s presence in the goal crease and his physical play.
“He slashed me four times before that,” Backstrom said with a smile. “So, I had a few times to catch up.”
In the end, a playoff atmosphere at the “X” garnered a combined 57 minutes, which includes two fights and a 10-minute misconduct on each team.
The Wild re-called enforcer Matt Kassian from the Houston Aeros earlier in day. He made his presence felt with physical and two energy-pumping fights.
“It makes everyone feel a little tougher,” Palmer said. “When you have a guy like that. We have (Staubitz) and he does his job. When you have two guys like that in the lineup and everyone feels more confident.”
Both bouts finished with Kassian knocking Oiler enforcer Darcy Hordichuk to the ice. He proceeded to fire the crowd up with a pair of celebratory waves at the crowd on his way to the penalty box.
“I don’t even know,” Kassian said. “A little bit of adrenaline. You can equate it to a goal celebration. I just of do whatever.”
No. 3 – Marek Zidlicky. The Wild defenseman recorded three assists.
No. 2 – Jarod Palmer. The Wild forward scored his first career NHL goal.
No. 1 – Mikko Koivu. The Wild forward recorded a goal and an assist.
Edmonton 1 1 1 – 3
Minnesota 1 3 0– 4
First Period – 1, Edmonton, Hall 10 (Eberle, Gilbert), 1:24. 2, Minnesota, Koivu 9 (Zidlicky, Zanon), 13:47 Penalties – Clutterbuck, Min (cross checking), 9:22; Smid, Edm (roughing), 9:22; Prosser, Min (roughing), 13:03; Hall, Edm (roughing), 13:03; Staubitz, Min (roughing), 18:01; Peckham, Edm (charging), 18:01; Kassian, Min (misconduct), 18:01; Eager, Edm (misconduct), 18:01.
Second Period – 3, Minnesota, Palmer 1 (Brodziak), 10:02. 4, Minnesota, Bouchard 8 (Zidlicky, Zanon), 10:21. 5, Edmonton, Smid 3 (Hall, Eager), 14:40. 6, Minnesota, Heatley 12 (Zidlicky, Koivu), 15:26. Penalties – Koivu, Min, double minor (high sticking), 3:36; Nugent-Hopkins, Edm (unsportsmanlike conduct), 6:42; Kassian, Min, major (fighting), 11:17; Hordichuk, Edm, major (fighting), 11:17.
Third Period – 7, Edmonton, Horcoff 8 (Smyth), 6:40. Penalties – Kassian, Min, major (fighting), :03; Hordichuk, Edm, major (fighting), :03; Teubert, Edm (cross checking), 4:49; Clutterbuck, Min (diving), 4:49; Jones, Edm (goaltender interference), 5:25; Backstrom, Min (roughing), 5:25 (served by Bouchard); Falk, Min (interference), 18:37; Prosser, Min (roughing), 20:00; Smyth, Edm (roughing), 20:00.
Shots on goal – Edmonton 9-9-12 30. Minnesota 10-9-8 27.
Goalies – Edmonton, Khabibulin (15-19), Dubnyk (8-8). Minnesota, Backstrom (27-30). A – 19,194. Referees – Tim Peel, Don VanMassenhoven. Linesmen – David Brisebois, Michel Cormier.