SAINT PAUL, MN
– Stay logged on to edmontonoilers.com for regular updates from tonight's game between the Edmonton Oilers and Minnesota Wild from the Xcel Energy Center.
The Wild look to clinch a playoff berth with a win while the Oilers will look to act as a road block and record their first victory of the season against their Northwest Division rival. Nikolai Khabibulin starts between the Edmonton pipes while Niklas Backstrom gets the call for Minnesota.
Just two seconds into the game, right off the opening draw, Mike Brown and Zenon Konopka shed their gloves and duke it out in a marathon scrap with both combatants landing solid punches.
The action-packed opening frame continues 25 seconds later as Ryan Smyth circles around the Minnesota net and fires a pass back to the point for Corey Potter, who blasts a one-timer past Backstrom to make it 1-0 Oilers. For Potter, it's his second of the season while Jordan Eberle picks up the second assist for his 33rd point.
Smyth continues his high-energy opening frame, getting physical with Cal Clutterbuck during a mid-period shift. Clutterbuck hits Smyth hard in front of the Oilers bench and Mark Fistric gives him a foreful shove.
The Oilers extend their lead to 2-0 with 11:58 remaining in the period as Taylor Hall steals the puck from the Wild along the half-wall and sends a scorching tough-angle wrist shot top shelf on Backstrom. It's Hall's team-leading 16th goal and 46th point of the year.
The Oilers are forced to rotate through just five defencemen in the latter stages of the opening frame as Fistric goes to the locker room after blocking a shot.
Potter tallies his second goal of the period with 1:22 to go as he pinches up towards the net, similar to his first goal, and Eberle finds him for the wrist shot top shelf past Backstrom. The Wild switch goalies after the 3-0 goal as Josh Harding comes on in relief.
The opening frame comes to an end with Edmonton leading 3-0 despite trailing shots 15-5.
The middle frame starts just like the opening frame played out — with Oilers goals. Eberle extends Edmonton's lead to 4-0 with 15:51 to go in the frame. Smyth steals the puck in the neutral zone and dishes it to Eberle who darts down the right wing and snipes a gorgeous wris shot over Harding's short side shoulder from a tough angle.
Good news for the Oilers defence as Fistric returns to action after leaving midway through the opening frame.
The Oilers onslaught continues with 9:47 on the clock as Hall drops a pass to Nail Yakupov in the high slot and the Russian rookie rifles a wrister past Harding to make it 5-0. The first-year phenom has his 13th goal and 27th point of the season.
Hall and Yakupov hook up again shortly thereafter to make it 6-0 Oilers as they break in on a two-on-one with Hall drifting a perfect pass to Yakupov for the backhand deflection. With the goal, Yakupov enters a three-way tie with Jonathan Huberdeau and Cory Conacher for the NHL rookie scoring lead.
The Oilers take a commanding 6-0 cushion into the final frame.
The Wild finally get on the board with their 34th shot of the night as Charlie Coyle drives to the net and loses the puck but Mikko Koivu is there to fire it past Khabibulin to cut the Oilers lead to 6-1 with 10:18 to go in regulation. Khabibulin's bid for his second shutout of the season is thwarted after he made 33 saves.
Getting shalacked in their home rink, tempers boil over for the Wild with 5:49 to go in the game as Mike Rupp and Konopka both try to go after Potter. Ryan Jones does his best to step in and intervene. Both Rupp and Konopka get two minutes for roughing and 10-minute misconducts. The Oilers get a five-on-three power play.
The Oilers are unable to add to their goal tally on the two-man advantage, but it doesn't matter as they cruise to a dominant 6-1 victory on the strength of three points each from Hall and Eberle and 38 saves from Khabibulin.