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Cullen helps Wild continue dominance of Oilers

Wednesday, 08.06.2014 / 4:52 AM

There's nothing like a game against the Edmonton Oilers to get the Minnesota Wild on track.

Matt Cullen scored two goals and set up Devin Setoguchi's go-ahead score early in the third period as the Wild continued their dominance of the Oilers with a 3-1 victory at Rexall Place on Thursday night.

The victory was the 11th in 13 meetings between the teams since the start of the 2010-11 season. The Wild are 41-24-4-5 all-time against the Oilers and have won six of their past seven visits to Edmonton.

Minnesota came into the game having won once in its first six road games this season.

Niklas Backstrom made 27 saves to improve to 23-3-1 in his career against Edmonton.

"It's never easy. It's a real good team," Backstrom said of playing the Oilers. "You see all the talent, all the skill they have. Coming in, we knew we had to play a good team game, and we played that for 60 minutes. We were disciplined and patient."

Wild coach Mike Yeo said Backstrom has been a rock in net.

"I think he's been playing great hockey for us lately," Yeo said. "He looks calm, he looks comfortable in the net, in control. When you have that, it's amazing the confidence that feeds to your team."

The loss was the third in four games for the Oilers, who finish a five-game homestand against the Phoenix Coyotes on Saturday before leaving on a nine-game road trip. Edmonton is 2-5-2 this month.

"We played good for 40-45 minutes," Oilers coach Ralph Krueger said. "It's frustrating, disappointing. It hurts. That's not the way to get points."

The game was tied 1-1 after two periods until Cullen controlled the puck behind the Edmonton net and whipped a behind-the-back pass into the slot to Setoguchi, who quickly one-timed at 2:20 to put the Wild ahead to stay.

Cullen added an insurance goal with 6:01 remaining when he steamed down right wing on a 2-on-1 break and ripped a wrist shot from the right circle over goaltender Devan Dubnyk's blocker to complete his first three-point night of the season.

"As much as anything else, I thought it was a good team game," Yeo said.

Edmonton's Taylor Hall ended any hope of an Oilers comeback when he was given a five-minute penalty for kneeing and a game misconduct for an open-ice collision with Cal Clutterbuck with 2:33 to go. Clutterbuck had to be helped off the ice and was unable to put weight on his left leg.

"I really didn't feel like it was knee-on-knee at all," Hall said. "I thought I got him with hip or torso area. It was a weird play.

"It [stinks] to see him down, but I don't think it was a dirty play ... I don't think I led with my knee."

Yeo disagreed.

"To me, what I saw was a player who didn't even look at the puck," he said. "It looked like he was trying to hurt a guy."

Yeo didn't know Clutterbuck's condition when he met the media after the game, saying only that, "He's hurt. He's hurt."

Edmonton outshot Minnesota 8-3 in a lackluster first period, but the Oilers jumped in front at 12:26 of the second when Ryan Smyth celebrated his 37th birthday by whirling out from behind the net and beat Backstrom with a wraparound for his second goal of the season.

Yeo said even though the Oilers scored the first goal, he felt good about the way his team was playing.

"Even when they scored the goal, I felt our game was really starting to come," he said. "There was an even harder push at that point. It was a great response by our guys."

The Wild got even at 15:02 when Cullen picked up a pass from Ryan Suter at the Edmonton blue line, raced past the defense and cut in front of Dubnyk before scoring on a backhander.

Minnesota dominated play for most of the rest of the night, leaving Krueger upset with what his saw.

"We came out with an excellent first 30 minutes again and gave up on the game that got us to that point," he said.

Material from team media was used in this report

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