ST. PAUL, Minn. - Owen Nolan scored two goals to lift the Minnesota Wild to a 3-0 win over the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday.
The Wild moved within a point behind Nashville, which was idle on Sunday, in the race for eighth place in the Western Conference. The Oilers are seventh, two points ahead of the Predators.
Edmonton, which entered the game without a regulation loss in its previous seven games, was frustrated throughout by Minnesota.
Wild goaltender Nicklas Backstrom made 31 saves for his seventh shutout of the season as the game also featured the return of star forward Marian Gaborik.
The Oilers outshot Minnesota 15-2 in the first period and repeatedly pressured Backstrom during three power plays. Minnesota rebounded in the second period, snapping off a franchise-record 23 shots and scoring the game's first goal on a power play. After Dwayne Roloson stopped a long-range shot, Nolan pushed the rebound over the goal-line at 14:26.
Nolan, who signed with Minnesota as a free agent last summer, scored again in the third period after a nice pass from James Sheppard at 4:26. It was the team-best 22nd goal for Nolan.
Stephane Veilleux was credited with Minnesota's third goal at 12:43 of the third. He was closest to the play when Edmonton defenceman Tom Gilbert inadvertently banked a pass off the skate of teammate Sam Gagner and into the Oilers' net.
It was just the seventh game of 2008-09 for Gaborik, who played the first two games in October, missed two months, played four games in December (scoring twice), and had been out again since just before Christmas after having hip surgery. He will be a free agent at the end of the season and turned down a contract extension during training camp.
That, and the fact that he's missed 94 games due to injury since 2005, has drawn the ire of many Wild fans. Still, Gaborik was greeted mostly with cheers, drowning out a smattering of boos, when he was introduced on Sunday.
Roloson, who is 0-6-2 in his past eight starts against his former team, had 33 saves.
Notes: Minnesota's Mikko Koivu was pulled down by Edmonton's Ales Kotalik in the first period and suffered a knee injury. He left the team bench in the second period and did not return. ... The Oilers are 0-8-2 in their past 10 visits to St. Paul. ... Minnesota is in a stretch of playing 14 of 17 games on the road. On Tuesday, the Wild travel to New York as they begin a four-game trek to visit the Rangers, Islanders, Flames and Oilers.