Edmonton coach Tom Renney tried not to make a big thing of Oilers' first victory at the Xcel Energy Center in almost five years.
"Just another win. Doing what we're supposed to do," was part of his appraisal after the Oilers beat the Minnesota Wild 5-2 on Friday to end a 17-game losing streak in St. Paul. No 1 draft pick Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored twice, Ryan Smyth had a goal and an assist and Taylor Hall and Shawn Horcoff also scored for Edmonton, who hadn’t won in Minnesota since to Jan. 6, 2007.
"I don't carry the weight of the world like it seems the rest of the world does," Renney said when asked about ending the drought in Minnesota. "We're supposed to do everything we can to win hockey games. We've been very close here. We always have good games with Minnesota, and I'm sure that will continue."
Nikolai Khabibulin stopped 30 shots to win for just the second time in six starts. His best save was sliding across the crease to make a right pad stop on Matt Cullen late in the second period.
The Oilers have won three of four overall, scoring 20 goals in the three wins.
"We know we have the horses to really come back from any situation," Horcoff said. "It's nice to know that when you come out and stick to the game plan we're given, we have a chance to win every night."
The Wild, who came into the game with a League-high 29 points, had their five-game winning streak snapped despite goals by Devin Setoguchi and Pierre-Marc Bouchard.
"We didn't play as well as we can," Cullen said. "We didn't play 60 full minutes."
Hall broke a 2-2 tie at 15:39 of the second period by poking home the rebound of a shot by Tom Gilbert that Josh Harding didn't see lying near the right post. Hall has seven points in his last four games.
Horcoff's one-timer midway through the third period beat Harding to make it 4-2, and Nugent-Hopkins hit the empty net for his second of the game and 10th point in his last four games. He leads all rookies with 24 points.
Smyth opened the scoring 5:15 into the game, fending off Nate Prosser in the crease to poke in a pass from Jordan Eberle of the opening period. Nugent-Hopkins' power-play goal off a scramble made it 2-0 1t 16:39.
Setoguchi lifted the puck over Khabibulin during a two-man advantage with 10 seconds left in the period to get the Wild back in the game. Bouchard tied it at 9:00 of the second period when he stole the puck from Nugent-Hopkins at center ice and beat Khabibulin through the five-hole on a breakaway.
The win lifted the Oilers to 12-8-2 -- a huge improvement for a team that finished last in the overall standings in each of the past two seasons. They’ve won back-to-back games in Nashville and Minnesota after a 4-1 loss at Dallas on Monday.
"The last couple of days we've got a lot of questions about how we're kind of an inconsistent team. Tonight, we played three pretty consistent periods," Hall said. "We knew we were bound to break out offensively at some time. It's great that it's happening now. We just have to maintain that every game."
The Wild have been tied or trailing after two periods in seven of their 13 wins. This time, they ran out of comebacks.
"We have been playing with fire, spotting teams the lead lately," coach Mike Yeo said. "There have been a lot of nice stories about us coming back and keeping with our game, but that's something we have to definitely be better at."