ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) _ The Minnesota Wild played a complete game, the kind
of all-around effort they've showed only sporadically this season.
Marc Chouinard scored for the first time in more than three months, and
Dwayne Roloson earned his fourth shutout of the season to lead Minnesota to a
3-0 victory over the Edmonton Oilers on Friday night.
Sergei Zholtok and Pascal Dupuis also had goals for the Wild, who won for
the third time in four games and ended the Oilers' _ as well as goalie Ty
Conklin's _ three-game winning streak.
``I think the guys, they knew the importance of this game,'' coach Jacques
Lemaire said. ``You look at the entire team _ try to find one player you're not
satisfied with. There's nobody.''
With less than 25 games remaining in the regular season, Minnesota picked up
a critical win and broke a tie with Edmonton for 10th place in the Western
Conference. The Wild, with 57 points, have played one more game than the
Oilers, who have 55 points. The top eight teams make the playoffs.
``Our consistency level has to get better,'' Oilers captain Jason Smith
said. ``We can't have games like this.''
Exactly what Minnesota has been saying, especially after a 3-1 loss to Los
Angeles on Tuesday that drew Lemaire's ire and led to some intense practices.
``You can start to smell the playoffs,'' Chouinard said. ``Guys are peaking
right now, so that's good.''
Conklin, who stopped 12 of 14 shots, broke two bones in his wrist and was
replaced after the first period by Tommy Salo _ who gave up a power-play goal
to Dupuis in the second.
There was no exact timetable for Conklin's return, but he and coach Craig
MacTavish both said it wouldn't keep him out for an extended period.
Roloson, making his season-high seventh straight start, made 28 saves. He
benefited from sound defense and a smart, relentless offense that notched 30
shots on goal for just the seventh time all season.
``It's good to see,'' Roloson said, ``and hopefully we can keep this up.''
Zholtok and Chouinard scored less than a minute apart in the first period _
Chouinard's third goal of the season and his first since Nov. 7. Edmonton's
Eric Brewer whiffed on a clearing attempt of Alexandre Daigle's rebound in
front of the net, and Chouinard poked in the spinning puck to make it 2-0.
After spending three seasons in Anaheim, Chouinard signed with the Wild this
summer. He broke his jaw against Edmonton on Nov. 13, however, and missed the
next 32 games while recovering from that and a viral infection that caused him
to lose significant weight. This was the eighth game since his return.
``I feel better and better every time,'' said Chouinard, who is still under
his training camp weight of 206 pounds. ``Energy-wise, I feel stronger and
After a crazy brawl near the end of the Oilers' 5-1 win over Atlanta
Wednesday in which Conklin fought with Thrashers goalie Pasi Nurminen and 164
penalty minutes were doled out, Edmonton was at it again.
Steve Staios, George Laraque and Smith each mixed it up with various Wild
players, including a second-period melee in which Minnesota's Matt Johnson took
down Laraque. Both received five-minute majors.
The fights seemed to sum up Edmonton's frustration.
``You'd have a hard time picking a guy who played an average game, much less
a good game,'' MacTavish said. ``You combine bad execution with poor
decision-making, and it's something we can't overcome.''