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Scrivens, Oilers hand Wild rare loss at home

by Dan Myers

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- It wasn't pretty for the Edmonton Oilers against the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday, but it was good enough. The Oilers scored two goals in the first period and hung on from there, winning 2-1 at Xcel Energy Center.

Benoit Pouliot scored each Oilers goal, and goaltender Ben Scrivens made 33 saves to help Edmonton win in regulation for the first time since Feb. 9.

The loss, which ended the Wild's three-game winning streak, was Minnesota's first at home since Jan. 19, a span of six games, and its second in regulation since the All-Star break (11-2-1).

For Pouliot, the win was extra special. Drafted fourth overall by Minnesota in the 2005 NHL Draft, he fizzled out with the Wild after 65 games over four seasons.

"It's always nice to come back and have that kind of performance," said Pouliot, who has three goals and three assists in seven career games against the Wild. "I enjoyed it. It's a big win for us."

Edmonton (18-34-10) got off to a quick start in the first period, outshooting Minnesota 9-6 and creating all the offense it would need.

The Oilers went ahead 1-0 at 11:12, taking advantage of a Wild turnover at their blue line. Defenseman Oscar Klefbom kept the puck in the zone and tipped it to Pouliot in the high slot. Pouliot moved the puck to the right circle to Jordan Eberle, who quickly returned it to Pouliot at the top of the crease for a tap-in past goalie Devan Dubnyk.

"That line was going really well for us, especially in the first period," Oilers coach Todd Nelson said. "Our guys did what they needed to do to get a win."

Minnesota (31-22-7) tied the score at 1-1 when Thomas Vanek scored at 15:14 on a shot from the top of the crease after a pass from Jordan Schroeder from behind the net.

Edmonton regained the lead less than a minute later when Pouliot and Eberle worked another pretty give-and-go passing play.

After a clean zone entry by Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, the Oilers center passed to Pouliot near the left point. Pouliot moved the puck to Eberle at the left circle and followed Eberle toward the front of the net. Eberle drew coverages from two Wild players before passing back to Pouliot, who snapped a shot past Dubnyk from the left hash at 15:46 to make it 2-1.

"I think we definitely took away some of their momentum there," Eberle said of the quick response to Vanek's goal. "Especially on the road, those are always big shifts.

"[Dubnyk] has been pretty hot, so we had to try and beat him with some, I don't want to say empty-netters, but some shots that are tough for him, and we did that."

Scrivens took over from there as the Wild kept firing. He made 28 saves over the final two periods, including 15 in the third, for his 12th victory.

"I thought we outplayed them for sure in the first, but we couldn't find a way to get it going in the second and third," Eberle said. "That's why goaltending is such a big factor in this league. [Scrivens] stood on his head and got us that win."

"Nothing you can do," Vanek said. "You hope by the end of the year, those games even out. At this stage, where we are in the standings, it's a tough two points to lose."

Wild coach Mike Yeo had preached a strong start following the morning skate on Tuesday. He didn't get it.

"That's what we were afraid of," Yeo said. "That's what we were trying to guard against, not being ready to go. The first period, we lost the game in large part because of our start.

"The last couple of periods, we had good zone time, good pressure, but we put ourselves in a hole we shouldn't have been in."

Dubnyk made 17 saves, losing to the Oilers for the first time in six starts against his former team this season.

Minnesota, playing inside the top 8 in the Western Conference for the first time in three months, was unable to capitalize on a night when the Calgary Flames lost. The Wild remain in the second wild-card position for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, one point ahead of Calgary.

With the Winnipeg Jets' 4-2 win against the Dallas Stars, the Wild dropped to four points behind the Jets for the top wild-card position, although the Wild have two games in hand. The Chicago Blackhawks won 3-2 in a shootout against the Florida Panthers, moving eight points up on the Wild for third place in the Central Division standings.

"You can't think about this one for too long," Wild captain Mikko Koivu said. "You have to learn from it. We play the best team in the League [Thursday against the Nashville Predators] in their building. We have to put everything we have into that one."

Before the game, the Wild acquired forward Sean Bergenheim and a seventh-round pick at the 2016 NHL Draft from the Florida Panthers in exchange for a third-round pick in 2016.

Bergenheim is expected to meet the Wild in Nashville, and Yeo said he will likely make his debut Thursday.

"He's a big body and he's going to hound pucks, which would fit the way we want to play the game," Yeo said. "Great work ethic, goes well to the net. What I like is he's good in both ends of the ice."

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