EDMONTON - Whenever the Minnesota Wild are ailing it seems the Edmonton Oilers are there to help supply the remedy.
The Wild have owned Edmonton the last couple seasons and they added to their totals on Thursday night as Eric Belanger had a career-high four assists as Minnesota snapped a two-game losing skid, defeating the Oilers 4-2. Martin Skoula, Marian Gaborik, Kurtis Foster and Mark Parrish scored for the Wild (10-6-2) who captured their first victory in six tries on the road and improved to 8-0-1 in their last nine encounters with Edmonton.
"For some reason, it seems to happen that you just have a team's number," said Parrish. "I don't really know why. You get wins that sometimes you don't even really deserve.
"Our power play came up with a pair of big goals and our penalty killing was good tonight. Otherwise we just got the bounces."
Wild captain Brian Rolston agreed that his team may have been a bit fortunate on the night.
"I don't think we were as sharp as we should have been tonight and I think it was a good thing we caught them playing for the second night in a row," he said. "But the two points is two points and it was a win we needed."
The loss snapped a two-game winning streak for the Oilers (7-11-1) who remained two points back of both Calgary and Vancouver for third place in the Northwest Division.
Jarret Stoll had both goals for the Oilers, who actually outshot Minnesota 40-25 on the night.
"Two goals as a team is not enough with that many shots," said Stoll. "We have to find ways to score and bear down a little bit. We need the rebounds and screens and all those things. You're not going to snipe it from 30 feet out all the time. You have to get dirty and get the garbage goals, and that's what we're missing.
"It's disappointing because it was all there for us."
Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish is getting sick of his team not emerging with victories from close games.
"We've been close in a lot of games and can take some satisfaction from that I guess, but I'm passed that point now," he said. "We're creating the opportunities but we're not putting the puck in the back of the net. That's the way you win hockey games."
MacTavish believes he needs to get stronger performances from goaltender Dwayne Roloson, who fell to 3-9-1 on the season and is starting to be outshone by backup Mathieu Garon.
"He's not playing at the level he has played, that's obvious," said the head coach. "We can't win right now with average goaltending. I don't think there are many teams that can. In my estimation tonight he was average."
Minnesota got the game's first goal just 4:45 in as Skoula's point shot nicked Edmonton defender Allan Rourke in front and redirected past Roloson.
The Wild emerged with a 1-0 lead after the first thanks in large part to goaltender Niklas Backstrom, stopping 16 Edmonton shots.
Edmonton tied the game 1-1 five minutes into the second as Ales Hemsky stole a puck from Backstrom, took it around the net and took a shot that bounced out to Stoll. His backhand beat a diving Backstrom for just his second goal of the season.
Stoll got his third of the campaign six minutes later while shorthanded as Mikko Koivu lost the puck at the point and Stoll broke away with it. With Foster draped all over him, Stoll was still able to slide the puck between Backstrom's legs.
But the Wild tied the game back up on the same power play just 48 seconds later as Eric Belanger made a nifty backhand pass to Gaborik who swatted his fifth of the season into the wide-open cage.
Minnesota went back ahead late in the second as Foster beat Roloson up high with a power-play point shot with just 48 seconds remaining to give the Wild the 3-2 lead.
Josh Harding came in to replace Backstrom between the pipes for the Wild to start the third period. Backstrom, who has struggled with a groin injury all season, remained on the Minnesota bench.
The move didn't adversely effect Minnesota as they padded their lead to 4-2 just 57 seconds into the final frame as Parrish blasted a one-time stick side that Roloson couldn't catch up with.
The Wild wrap up their four-game road trip on Friday night in Vancouver while Edmonton next plays host to Calgary on Saturday.
The injury-riddled Oilers defence corps received another bit of bad news on Thursday with Sheldon Souray taken off day-to-day status and re-listed as out indefinitely with a left shoulder sprain. A return that looked less than a week away could now be another month. Souray has missed 13 games with the injury so far.
Notes - Wingers Marian Gaborik and Stephane Veilleux drew back into the lineup for Minnesotaa Skoula's first period goal was his first in 113 games. The last time he scored, March 13, 2006, was also against Edmonton.