SAINT PAUL, MN -
A trio of late first-period goals 4:16 apart by the Minnesota Wild looked to be the difference but the Oilers came all the way back to tie the Wild at Xcel Energy Center on Tuesday night before winning 4-3 in a shootout.
"I'm proud of them. It would have been easy to pack it in but the guys kept scraping and clawing," Oilers head coach Dallas Eakins said after the game, giving full credit to Minnesota's defensive play in the contest.
"Great credit to the players on that team. They were playing an excellent defensive game but we stuck to it."
With the score 3-1 Wild just past the midway point of the third period, David Perron redirected a shot from Andrew Ference past Kuemper to draw the Oilers to within a goal.
Then with less than five minutes to play, Jordan Eberle pounced on a rebound before firing it past Kuemper to bring the Oilers back on even terms. Assists went to Ference and Oscar Klefbom, with his first career NHL point.
Matt Hendricks cleared the puck over the glass from his own zone with nine seconds to play in regulation, setting up a Minnesota power play in overtime. However, the Oilers penalty killers were able to kill off the Wild four-on-three.
"Our killers did an amazing job. They took direction on the kills. That's what wins hockey games," said Eakins.
In the shootout, Jordan Eberle, David Perron and Taylor Hall each scored for Edmonton while Mikko Koivu and Zach Parise tallied for the Wild.
The deciding marker was decided by Hall, who went five-hole.
"It's been awhile since I've taken a shootout shot. Ebs told me he thought five hole would be there for me," Hall stated. "We battled our way through the game and were able to win in the shoutout. Feels good."
The shots on goal nearly eight minutes into the game were 5-0 for the Edmonton until the Wild finally registered their first shot, a point blast as Viktor Fasth made his first save as an Oiler.
With 10:43 to go in the opening period, Taylor Hall received two minutes for holding to give Minnesota the game's first power play.
10 seconds remained in the Hall penalty before the Wild converted for the game’s first goal. Fasth slid across and kicked out his left pad to make a nice stop on Zach Parise after the Wild forward quickly released a feed from the slot. Parise then picked up the rebound and put it in for the 1-0 lead.
Just over two minutes later, Jared Spurgeon's shot from the point deflected off the skate of Justin Schultz and into the top corner of the net to double the Wild lead.
Minnesota continued to swarm the Oilers net. Less than two minutes after taking a two-goal lead, Minnesota made it 3-0. Fasth made an unbelievable glove save off Pominville on a redirection from the slot. The puck went back to Pominville moments later and this time he made no mistake, firing it short side past the Oilers goaltender.
"That is a tough start. He hasn't played a whole lot this year. I talked to Viktor after the game and told him that he battled hard," Eakins said about Fasth. The Swedish netminder also talked about his eventful Oilers debut.
"Those types of games are hard to come back in but we got a couple bounces that went our way in the third," Fasth said.
With 3:05 to play in the first, Edmonton finally got on the board. Jeff Petry centred the puck from the right corner of the Wild zone. It went off the skate of Jonas Brodin in front and in past Kuemper to make it a two-goal game. Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins got the assists.
Shots on goal after one period were 10-9 for Edmonton but the Oilers trailed by two.
Charlie Coyle received two minutes for holding the stick only 24 seconds into the period to give Edmonton its first man advantage of the game.
Shortly before the penalty expired, the Wild had a two-on-one opportunity while shorthanded. Brodziak's backhand attempt was denied by Fasth.
Five seconds later, Brodziak received two for hooking to send the Oilers back on the power play but Edmonton continued to struggle with the man advantage. Fasth denied Cooke on another two-on-one shorthanded scoring chance for Minnesota and the Oilers didn’t have a shot in the two minutes.
Minnesota went to the power play with 12:27 left in the middle frame after Nugent-Hopkins got sent to the box for hooking. Less than a minute later, Ryan Smyth went off for hooking as well, giving the Wild a two-man advantage for the next minute and 24 seconds.
Oilers killed off the penalties after Fasth came up big with a handful of stops.
Shots after 40 were 18-16 for the Wild.