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Brodziak powers Wild against former mates

by Robin Brownlee
EDMONTON -- The Minnesota Wild have made a habit of beating the Edmonton Oilers at the Xcel Energy Center, but they hadn't had much luck taking that act on the road to Alberta.

Winners of 14 straight games against the Oilers in Minnesota but with just one win to show for their last eight visits to Edmonton, the Wild made themselves right at home Thursday with a 4-2 win at Rexall Place.

Two goals by former Oiler Kyle Brodziak, the winner by Guillaume Latendresse and an empty-netter by Brent Burns got the job done in front of 34 saves by goaltender Niklas Backstrom.

"It's the same as doing anywhere else, I think," shrugged Brodziak, when asked about recording the fifth two-goal game of his career against his former team. "It's nice to be able to contribute.
"That feels good when you can contribute and the team wins. It doesn't make any difference where it happens."

Beaten 4-2 by Backstrom and the Wild in Minnesota last Thursday, the Oilers fell behind 2-0 early on Brodziak's pair, then stormed back to carry the play. The problem is, they couldn't solve Backstrom often enough on the way to losing their third-straight game after opening the season with back-to-back wins.

Like the Wild, Backstrom has had the Oilers number at home, where he's 12-0 against them, but he'd been pulled in four of his last eight starts at Rexall Place. Obviously, Backstrom packed some home cooking with him, too.

"I felt good out there," Backstrom said. "It's been a tough building for us. It's a good team and they play well here. It's a tough place to win, so it's good to get the two points.

"We got the good start and we needed that because it's been the other way around here a few times. For sure, it's easier to play when you get a start like that."

Nikolai Khabibulin hasn't had much success against the Wild in his career, posting a 4-8-2 career record against Minnesota, and he allowed three goals on the first seven shots he faced.

Brodziak, playing in his eighth game the team that drafted him in the seventh round back in 2003, scored his first two goals against his old team as he put the Wild ahead in the first six minutes.

Brodziak banged his own rebound behind Khabibulin on Minnesota's second shot for a 1-0 lead with the crowd barely settled. He made it 2-0 when he snapped a wrist shot past Khabibulin at 5:34.

"I don't think this was our best game," Brodziak said. "We had a few lulls in it. Hopefully, we can learn from that. Even if you're up 2-0 early, you can't lay off the gas pedal."

Ales Hemsky cut the margin to 2-1 on a power play just under 13 minutes in when he fooled Backstrom with a wrist shot from the circle, but then Khabibulin and the Oilers got a bad break.

Minnesota was on a power play when Latendresse took what looked like a harmless shot toward the net from deep in the corner. The puck tipped off Jim Vandermeer's stick and found the back of the net just over a minute after Hemsky had cut the lead in half.

Trailing 3-1, the Oilers unloaded everything they had at Backstrom in the second period but he refused to budge. Midway through the period, the Oilers had a 10-1 edge in shots, but nothing to show for it. Backstrom kept it that way until the intermission, stopping all 15 shots he faced.

"We pushed to come back," Oilers captain Shawn Horcoff said. "I think you have to give Backstrom some credit. He made some big saves at big times, but it was good to see the fight in the guys.

"We didn't give up in here. We came back. I think there's confidence we can produce offense. More nights than not, if we have that many chances we'll score more than two goals."

Horcoff narrowed it to 3-2 with his third goal of the season on a backhand that trickled under Backstrom eight minutes into the third period, but Burns ended any drama by scoring into an empty net.

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