EDMONTON, AB -
Oilers Head Coach Dallas Eakins called Edmonton’s 3-0 loss to Minnesota an ‘ugly game’ by both teams, as Darcy Kuemper made 21 saves in the Wild’s shutout win at Rexall Place.
“It was pretty embarrassing, I thought,” Oilers winger David Perron said. “Nothing was going, we didn’t generate any offence, our defence wasn’t good. Awful game.”
The loss was Edmonton’s fifth shutout loss at home, this season. It was the Oilers and Minnesota’s first game since the Olympic break ended. Rustiness was expected, however Oilers players were disappointed in how the game unraveled.
“We expected to have a little bit of rust in terms of timing, in terms of positional play and things like that,” Forward Matt Hendricks said. “In terms of our compete level and our energy level, it should’ve been there and it wasn’t.”
The breakdowns on the Oilers end were a direct result of not sticking to the game plan, according to Hendricks.
“I think, more from the team level, we just kind of deviated from our system, from our game plan in terms of getting pucks to the net and getting their D to turn to find rebounds. Instead of putting pucks to the net, we tried to make plays through people. Especially against a great defensive team like Minnesota, that’s not going to work.”
Minnesota’s Kyle Brodziak and Hendricks were sent to the box for roughing, under one minute into the game. The Oilers, who lead the league in 4-on-4 goals this season, let in a 4-on-4 score to the visitors at 2:04 of the opening period.
With the extra space on the ice, Zach Parise found Mikael Granlund in the slot for an easy look at an open net. The 22-year-old Finnish forward put the Wild up early, 1-0.
Physical play broke out in the first period and both teams finished the opening 20 minutes with six shots on goal.
Jordan Eberle nearly scored the equalizer early in the second period, at the tail end of a power play, but Kuemper squeezed his pads together to trap the puck in the crease and out of harms way.
“I thought, for both teams, it was an ugly hockey game,” Eakins said. “I haven’t seen the chances. I’m guessing the chances were probably even. They were able to capitalize and we weren’t.”
Stephane Veilleux increased the Wild lead to two at 9:37 of the middle frame. Erik Haula skated the puck near the red line, to the right of Ben Scrivens, and passed it to Veilleux in the high slot. Veilleux sank it and the Wild led, 2-0.
After watching his team go down by two goals, Luke Gazdic dropped the gloves with Clayton Stoner to create some energy. Gazdic was the clear winner of the tilt, landing several blows and finishing with a heavy right, knocking Stoner to the ice.
“I think we came out slow and we could just never kind of, get into the game,” Gazdic said. “They were pretty good in their systems early and we didn’t match it. Our physicality was there to start but we just weren’t executing a lot of things that we worked on. We could never really get back into the game. We were just clawing back and were always a step behind and that’s a tough thing to do in this league.”
Dany Heatley put Minnesota up 3-0 as he swiped at a rebound, while falling to the ice, and buried it behind Scrivens at 9:29 of the third period.
The overall scrappy nature of the game continued as Hendricks and Stoner nearly squared off in a fight, but it was broken up by the officials.
“Guys like me and (Hendricks) try and do stuff like that all of the time and sometimes it helps and sometimes it doesn’t make too much of a difference on the team,” Gazdic said. “But I think it definitely got the bench going a little bit. We just couldn’t seem to capitalize on it after that. That’s stuff we’re just trying to do. We’re trying to help the team in any way to give a little energy. It just didn’t work out.”
Nail Yakupov left the game with an ankle injury and did not return.