EDMONTON - Edmonton Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish found it fitting that his team survived a second period shelling en route to a 4-2 win over the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday night.
After all, Minnesota has done it to them often enough. Kyle Brodziak scored twice and Mathieu Garon made 38 saves as the Oilers continued their playoff push with a big divisional win.
Fernando Pisani and Jarret Stoll also scored for the Oilers (26-27-5), who have won three of their last four and will need to maintain a blistering pace to make up ground in the Western Conference race. Edmonton began the night in 13th place, nine points back of the eighth-place Calgary Flames.
The key to the game was finding a way to keep their heads above water in the second as the Oilers were fortunate to emerge from the period with a 2-1 lead despite being outshot 21-4 in the period and 31-11 through 40 minutes.
"It was fitting to win a game like that when we have lost so many where we have out-shot the opposition over the years, particularly against Minnesota," MacTavish said. "There have been lots of nights in here where we have nailed them with a lot of shots and lost the game. It's the old adage, what comes around, goes around."
Garon says the second period wasn't nearly as tough as the 21 shots on the board would lead people to believe.
"Sometimes when you have a young team you can getting panicking a little bit in your zone," he said. "We were giving up a lot of shots but at the same time most of the shots were coming from the side and they were shooting from everywhere. Sometimes the shot clock doesn't really reflect the game."
Pavol Demitra and Brian Rolston replied for the Wild (32-21-4), who had a two-game winning streak come to an end but still lead the Northwest Division standings.
Forward Marian Gaborik says they just couldn't get the kind of shots off on Garon that they wanted to.
"We talked about shooting high, he was covering low very good," he said. "A lot of shots we had on him were very low shots. In that second period we could have scored four goals easily. It could have been a totally different game."
After spending the majority of the second period on the defensive, the Oilers put the game away with two goals early in the third - both from Brodziak. With the Oilers up 2-1, the third-year forward extended the lead two minutes into the period, picking up his own rebound and chipping it over the glove of Wild netminder Josh Harding.
Brodziak gave the Oilers a 4-1 advantage 2:21 later, picking up another rebound at the left hash mark and firing a shot into the top corner for his eighth of the season. It was his first career two-goal game.
"It feels really good to have a game like this," said the second year Oiler. "For a while I've been struggling personally and haven't been able to put my chances in the back of the net. Tonight when I got the chances I made sure I was bearing down on them and I put them in the right spots I guess. It feels good to be able to contribute like that."
Harding allowed two goals on 12 shots in the third after relieving starter Nicklas Backstrom, who surrendered two goals on 11 shots through 40 minutes.
"I could see that (Backstrom) was a little nervous or out of position a little bit," said Wild head coach Jacques Lemaire on making the switch in net. "That's why at the end of the (second) we decided to give him a chance to recover from it."
Edmonton opened the scoring with 1:48 in the first period. Andrew Cogliano made a cross-ice pass to Pisani and his wrist shot eluded Backstrom's glove.
The Wild tied it up eight minutes into the second period as Demitra picked up a Kurtis Foster point shot rebound at the side of the net and tucked it under Garon.
Edmonton restored its one goal advantage two-and-a-half minutes later on the power play as Stoll unleashed a shot from the point which eluded a screened Backstrom.
Both teams return to the ice on Thursday. The Wild conclude a three-game road swing in Vancouver while the Oilers launch a four-game trip in San Jose.
Notes: Already without the services of forwards Shawn Horcoff and Raffi Torres for the remainder of the season, the Oilers announced Tuesday that Sheldon Souray will also not be able to return this season. The defenceman, who signed a US$27-million, five-year contract in the off-season, had arthroscopic surgery on his left shoulder late last week. In 26 games with the Oilers this season, Souray had three goals and 10 points Wild defenceman Kim Johnsson missed the game due to illness The Wild have still had a lot of recent success this season against Edmonton winning nine of their last 11 contests, including four of six games this season With Harding coming in to take the loss, Backstrom still has yet to lose to the Oilers. In his eight previous career starts against Edmonton, Backstrom was 8-0-0 with a 1.30 goals-against average, a .947 save percentage and three shutouts Newly acquired forward Curtis Glencross assisted on both Brodziak goals.