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Under the Scope: Oilers at Wild

by Ryan Dittrick / Edmonton Oilers

Edmonton rolled into St. Paul looking for a fourth consecutive victory following a terrific end to the most recent homestand. Unfortunately, the visit to Minnesota followed a similar path to the previous 14 in which the Wild have emerged victorious.

Martin Havlat opened the scoring midway through the second period when he received a long stretch pass, sidling his way behind the Oilers defence. After collecting the puck at the blueline, Havlat proceeded in alone on a breakway, where he snapped a shot five-hole to record the icebreaker.

The Oilers continued to press and were eventually rewarded for their persistence. An odd-man rush the other way saw Linus Omark feed a trailing Kurtis Foster, who snapped a bullet under the bar to elude Wild goaltender Niklas Backstrom. Unfortunately for the visitors, this was the last of the offensive output.

Third period goals by Kyle Brodziak, Jared Spurgeon and Pierre-Marc Bouchard put the Wild in front for good, as Edmonton was relegated to a 4-1 loss Tuesday night.

Nikolai Khabibulin returned to the crease where he made 19 saves on 23 shots for the loss.

All you need to know and more as we go Under the Scope:

The Oilers and Wild entered the third period deadlocked at one, but the home side came prepared to break the draw early. After the Oilers struggled to clear the defensive zone, ex-Oiler Kyle Brodziak made his former team pay with a creative backhand that eluded Nikolai Khabibulin. For a Minnesota team that has had so much success against Edmonton in recent seasons, this was only the beginning of the offensive onslaught. From this point forward, the Wild would add another two goals to extend the lead and ultimately cruise to a decisive 4-1 victory.

43 The Oilers were victorious on only 43% of the faceoffs tonight. Captain Shawn Horcoff posted the best result and the only total north of 50%, with a 10-5, 67% outing in the dot.
15 The Oilers have now lost 15 consecutive games at Xcel Energy Center. Edmonton has been outscored 55-19 during this unfortunate streak.
35 Kurtis Foster scored his first goal in 35 games tonight when he beat Niklas Backstrom with a wicked snapshot. His previous goal came on Dec. 1st, 2010 when he scored on Carey Price and the Montreal Canadiens.
17 Although Edmonton was unable to match Minnesota's third period offensive total, the physical game was an evenly-played tussle; both clubs recorded 17 hits on the night.

Pierre-Marc Bouchard
G A P +/- Shots
1 2 3 +3 2

Martin Havlat
G A P +/- Shots
1 0 1 +2 3

Jared Spurgeon
G A P +/- Shots
1 0 1 E 4

Niklas Backstrom
21 20 1 59:58 .952

Nikolai Khabibulin
23 19 4 59:58 .826

Greg Zanon - D

22:34 - 1A, E rating

Tom Gilbert - D

25:38 - 0P, -2 rating

With the Wild leading 3-1 late in the third period, Pierre-Marc Bouchard added salt into the wound with a patented move to put his club up by three. With Ladislav Smid and Tom Gilbert caught up ice, Bouchard took a lengthy pass to break in alone. Bouchard faked a shot before performing a spin-o-rama at the lip of the crease, undressing Khabibulin and depositing the 4-1 goal. Although Bouchard has successfully executed the maneuver before, this was the first time such an attempt has been made during game action. Typically, Bouchard saves the heroics (and theatrics) for the shootout.

In only 16:28 of ice-time, Pierre-Marc Bouchard had a terrific evening for the Wild, as he factored in on three of Minnesota's four goals. Including his beautifully executed spin-o-rama goal late in the third, Bouchard concluded the night with one goal and three points, a plus-three rating and two shots on goal. Overall, a fantastic night for the Wild centre who continues to heat up offensively in his abbreviated campaign.

Oilers defenceman Kurtis Foster recorded his first goal since Dec. 1st when he scored on Carey Price and the Montreal Canadiens 35 games ago. Although the production was a nice addition, it was Foster's overall game that excelled on this night. Adding to his goal and plus-one rating was a team-leading three blocked shots, two attempts on goal, and one hit to take part in the physical game. All things considered, it was a great evening for the Oilers' offensive rearguard.

Theo Peckham continues to be a menacing force on the blueline. In a game that featured the league's top hitter in Cal Clutterbuck, the need for a physical response was intense. Peckham willingly responded to the challenge by sending Clutterbuck to the ice in a one-arm push at the whistle. A naturally perturbed Clutterbuck rose to his feet and further challenged Peckham, but nothing more came of the quick melee. It was yet another sign of Peckham's intimidating nature bringing forth a physical tone.

With the loss tonight, the Oilers have now dropped 15 consecutive games at Xcel Energy Center in Minnesota; during which time Edmonton has been outscored 55-19 in the 0-13-2 stretch overall. 

"Linus made a good pass and I think I heard the post and was more worried about going into the boards. I didn't know it went in until I saw Gags (Sam Gagner) raise his arms. It was definitely a good feeling."

-  Kurtis Foster comments on scoring his first goal since Dec. 1st

Wednesday, February 23 at Colorado
  7:30pm MST (TSN / 630 CHED)

The Oilers wrap up their quick two-game road trip with a stop in Colorado Wednesday night. Game-time is 7:30pm MST and can be seen on TSN.

Author: Ryan Dittrick |

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