With November now in the books, the Minnesota Wild are looking down at the rest of the NHL.
The Wild finished the month on top of the overall standings by rallying from a two-goal deficit to beat the Edmonton Oilers 3-2 in a shootout at Rexall Place on Wednesday night. Former Oiler Kyle Brodziak scored in the sixth round of the shootout to give the Wild their third win against the Oilers in the tiebreaker this season.
The win moved the Wild (15-7-3) into first place in the overall NHL standings with 33 points, one more than the Eastern Conference-leading Pittsburgh Penguins. Minnesota, which hasn't made the playoffs since 2008, is off to the best start in franchise history. They finished November with an 11-4-0 record.
"It feels good to be part of a winning team," said captain Mikko Koivu, who set up the Wild's first goal. "We have to enjoy the win, but at the same time we have to recognize that it's early in the season and we have to move forward, we have to keep working."
The Wild got to the shootout by rallying from a 2-0 deficit midway through the second period.
"We don't look for excuses -- not that we don't look for them, we don't accept them," first-year coach Mike Yeo said. "We have a bunch of fighters. Things were not going our way, I didn't like our start to the game. But we kept fighting and finding a way -- we were clawing our way into that game."
Each team scored three times in the first five rounds before Niklas Backstrom stopped Ryan Smyth's backhander to start the sixth round. Brodziak, an Edmonton native who had missed on the only previous shootout attempt of his career, won it by snapping a shot through Nikolai Khabibulin's pads.
The Oilers fell to 12-10-3 -- with all three post-regulation losses to the Wild in shootouts. Edmonton lost three of its four home games in November after going 6-1-1 at Rexall Place in October.
"What we've got to pay attention to is this is our rink, this is our home," Oilers coach Tom Renney said. "We have to make it tougher to play us here."
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins put the Oilers ahead 9:58 into the first period, slamming home a cross-crease feed by defenseman Andy Sutton for his 11th goal of the season. The No. 1 pick in the 2011 NHL Draft then helped the Oilers make it 2-0 at 5:10 of the second, feeding Jordan Eberle near the goal line for a quick backhander that beat Backstrom for a power-play goal.
"I think the first period we weren't ready to play," Koivu said.
Nugent-Hopkins increased his rookie-leading totals to 11 goals and 27 points.
"Keep it going, kid. It's remarkable. The beauty is that the Edmonton Oilers fans get to watch this," Renney said.
But the Wild got back into the game at 11:31 after a poor pass by Edmonton defenseman Tom Gilbert. Koivu grabbed the puck and threw it from the half-wall toward the net, where Devin Setoguchi deflected it through Khabibulin's pads. Koivu extended his points streak to seven games.
"With the game on the line, our best players seemed to play the best," Yeo said.
Brodziak tied it at 14:51 by bulling his way to the net and beating Khabibulin during a power-play scramble.
"When you have a 2-0 lead at home, you've got to find a way to close," Oilers forward Sam Gagner said. "Our intensity level dropped and we let them come back."
After a scoreless third period, the Wild got a power-play chance when Smyth was called for tripping at 3:07, but the Oilers were able to kill off the penalty.
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2 - 0 EDM
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