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Wild finish off season sweep of Oilers

by Robin Brownlee / NHL.com
EDMONTON -- Team records might be something of a consolation prize compared to earning a Western Conference playoff spot, but at least the Minnesota Wild have that much after skating to a 3-1 win Friday over the Edmonton Oilers at Rexall Place.

With the victory, Minnesota set a franchise record with its 20th road win of the season. The Wild also swept the six-game season series against the Oilers, marking the first time they've done that.

While that might not be cause for major celebration, those two feats are more than the Oilers have to hang their hats on after wrapping up their home schedule with just 13 wins, a franchise low for a full season.

"Last night was a tough one. Tonight, to come back here and get two points felt good," said Pierre-Marc Bouchard, who had assists on all three Minnesota goals.

Beaten 5-0 by the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday, the Wild snapped a three-game losing streak. Brent Burns, Jared Spurgeon and Andrew Brunette scored and Jose Theodore made 28 saves as Minnesota improved to 38-35-8.

The Oilers, who will complete their schedule in Colorado against the Avalanche on Sunday afternoon, are destined to finish 30th for the second straight season.

"Just because we're not going to make the playoffs doesn't mean we're giving up," said Edmonton's Theo Peckham, who fought Clayton Stoner seven seconds into the game.
"It's nice to kind of salvage some pride. We fought hard, even if we didn't get the result we wanted."

For a game that didn't matter in the standings, the Wild and Oilers went at each other early and often in a first period that produced 100 minutes in penalties.

Peckham and Stoner got things started. That fight left the Wild playing with five defenseman the rest of the way as Stoner was assessed a game misconduct for not having his jersey tied down.

Edmonton's Steve MacIntyre was also ejected, being assessed an instigator, a major and a game misconduct for going after Brad Staubitz for an elbow he'd thrown at rookie Magnus Paajarvi.

"I think that's big for us," Staubitz said of bouncing back from a drubbing against the Canucks. "We played hard. We came out of the gate hard and with emotion.

"It was a long first period. It takes a while to get that over with and get on to the game, but I think we fared well and stuck together. That's a big thing for our team."

Burns scored the only goal of the opening 20 minutes. With Chris VandeVelde serving a double-minor for high-sticking, Burns beat Devan Dubnyk with a one-timer at 14:30.

Spurgeon made it 2-0 just 1:25 into the second period on a power play, but Teemu Hartikainen cut the lead in half when he tapped a Jordan Eberle pass behind Theodore with the Oilers shorthanded.

"We wanted to end on a bang at home," Eberle said. "Obviously, the fans have been behind us all season and we wanted to give them something to cheer about as far as a win."

The assist was Eberle's 43rd point, giving him the team scoring lead. Ales Hemsky, Sam Gagner and Taylor Hall, who each have 42 points, are out for the season, meaning Eberle will become the first rookie in franchise history to lead the Oilers in scoring. Wayne Gretzky did it in his first NHL season, but wasn't considered a rookie because of his WHA games.

"We wanted to come out and beat these guys," Eberle said. "They've had our number most of the year and they've found a way to beat us in a lot of areas. We really wanted to take these last two points against them."

Brunette made sure that didn't happen, closing out the scoring into an empty net to seal the season sweep.


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