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Wild back in playoff picture after 3-2 win over slumping Oilers

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EDMONTON - Marian Gaborik had a goal and an assist as the Minnesota Wild put themselves back into the playoff picture in the Western Conference, defeating the Edmonton Oilers 3-2 on Sunday night.

Andrew Brunette and Martin Skoula also scored for the Wild (36-32-8), who kept themselves from slipping five points back of the playoff cut with the win to move one point back of the Oilers and three points back of eighth-place St. Louis.

Fernando Pisani and Ales Kotalik scored for the Oilers (36-31-9), who have now lost four of their last five to fall two points off the playoff pace into 10th in the West.

Minnesota got off to a quick start with a pair of goals less than two minutes apart before the mid-mark of the opening period.

The Wild struck first seven minutes in when Gaborik's whiffed shot was picked up in front of the net by Brunette who stuffed a backhand shot past Edmonton starter Dwayne Roloson for his 20th of the season.

Minnesota held a 2-0 advantage 1:51 later when Skoula's shot from the point skittered between Roloson's legs on a play the veteran goaltender would like to have back.

Edmonton finally got on the board just 1:04 into the third period as Ethan Moreau held off Marc-Andre Bergeron and sent a backhand pass in front of the net where Pisani was able to tap it through the legs of Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom.

But the Wild restored their two-goal cushion just three minutes later with an extra man on the ice due to a delayed penalty call, as Gaborik used a screen in front and deftly picked the corner for his seventh of the season.

Edmonton pulled within 1 with five minutes left to play, as Ales Hemsky spotted Kotalik open at the top of the face-off circle and he beat Backstrom with a bullet to make it 3-2.

The Oilers had a number of late opportunities to tie, but Backstrom stood his ground to earn the win despite the Oilers out-shooting his team 16-4 in the final frame.

Both teams return to action on Tuesday with six games left apiece in the regular season. Edmonton plays the second game of a six-game homestand against Anaheim while the Wild return home to host Vancouver.

Notes: Captain Mikko Koivu returned to the Wild lineup after missing the last three games with a leg injury suffered in a collision with Edmonton's Ales Kotalik....The last time these two teams met Minnesota forward Pierre-Marc Bouchard missed his second game with what the team has been calling a headache following a big hit last Wednesday from Nate Thompson of the Islanders. ... Oilers defenceman Ladislav Smid left the game in the second period with a fractured left hand and did not return. ... Roloson, who has been defying the odds with his play at 39-years-old this season, made his 32nd consecutive start for the Oilers. ... The home team had won all five of the previous meetings between the Oilers and Wild this season. .... Sunday's crowd of 16,839 represented the 150th consecutive regular season sellout in Edmonton.

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