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Under the Scope: Oilers at Wild

by Ryan Dittrick / Edmonton Oilers

Edmonton scored twice in the third period -- both on the power-play -- but the commanding Minnesota advantage was too much to overcome, as the Wild emerged with a 4-2 victory over the Oilers Thursday night at Xcel Energy Center.

Tom Gilbert and Linus Omark registered the Oilers goals, both snapping extended scoreless streaks (48 and 26 games respectively), while Antti Miettinen, Brad Staubitz, Marek Zidlicky and Martin Havlat did the damage for the home side.

With the loss, the Oilers have now lost 11 consecutive games and 16 straight in Minnesota. Nikolai Khabibulin was rewarded with his second start in a row, making 18 saves on 22 Wild shots in the loss as his personal record drops to 10-31-3 overall.

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

Although Edmonton carried the play for much of the early going, it was the hometown club that was able to capitalize on some early chances. After Antti Miettinen scored to put the Wild ahead 1-0, the gap was extended to a pair only 35 seconds later. Marek Zidlicky's snapshot from the slot was inadvertantly redirected by Jeff Petry, beating Khabibulin and establishing a 2-0 lead for Minnesota. The quick-strike attack prompted Head Coach Tom Renney to use his 30-second timeout, but the damage had already done. The Oilers were unable to recover en route to an 11th consecutive loss. 

44 Edmonton could only manage a 44% success rate in the faceoff circle tonight. Of the regular draw-takers, Gilbert Brule posted the best result with a 6-5, 55% outing.
48 Tom Gilbert scored his first goal in 48 games tonight. His previous tally was marked on Dec. 10, 2010 vs. Tampa Bay (4-3 Oilers win).
26 Like Gilbert, Linus Omark also snapped a long drought. He scored his first goal in 26 games, with his previous marker coming on Jan. 25, 2011 vs. Phoenix (4-3 Oilers win).
16 In addition to out-shooting the Wild 35-22, Edmonton out-hit Minnesota with a 16-12 edge in physical play.
1 Linus Omark's goal came one second after a five-on-three had expired. The Oilers are still without a goal with a two-man advantage this season.

Matt Cullen
G A P +/- Shots
0 1 1 +1 0

Marek Zidlicky
G A P +/- Shots
1 0 1 +1 1

Brent Burns
G A P +/- Shots
0 1 1 +2 1

Niklas Backstrom
35 33 2 60:00 .943

Nikolai Khabibulin
22 18 4 59:01 .818

Brent Burns - D

24:49 - 1A, +2 rating

Jim Vandermeer - D

24:06 - 1A, -2 rating

Nikolai Khabibulin was rewarded with a second consecutive start following his 31-save performance vs. Los Angeles this past Tuesday. The veteran netminder responded well with a terrific series of saves in the opening period to preserve the two-goal deficit. With the Oilers on an extended four-minute power-play, the best chances came at the visitors' expense. Shorthanded, John Madden rushed down the wing, snapped quick shot and hustled to the rebound. Along with Chuck Kobasew, Madden was denied several times with the sprawling heroics of Khabibulin and his goal-stick.

With the Wild capturing a 16th consecutive victory over the Oilers at Xcel Energy Center, goaltender Niklas Backstrom is deserving of the accolades. Coming into tonight, he had accumulated a slim 1.14 goals-against average vs. Edmonton at home, which highlighted a dominant 13-0-0 record in the same location. Although Tom Gilbert was able to break the shutout late in the second (along with Omark's third period tally), his 33 saves earned him his 14th straight victory over the Oilers in Minnesota.

Veteran rearguard Jason Strudwick had a relativey uneventful evening for the Oilers; and for a seventh defenceman that has been promoted on the back of lineup changes, this is exactly what Edmonton needs. Strudwick played a total of 14:17 vs. the Wild, 2:19 of which came shorthanded to assist the penalty kill. Strudwick was one of the few Oilers to record an even rating on the night, while dishing the body and making smart, accurate passes to ignite the breakout. Overall, an incredibly solid evening for Edmonton's #43.

After missing five games due to a concussion that was sustained in Pittsburgh two weeks ago, Gilbert Brule made an emphatic return to the lineup tonight. In total, the 24-year-old was able to accumulate two hits on the evening, but none were more impactful than his second period crunch on Andrew Brunette. The Wild forward was unable to clear the puck from his zone along the half-boards. Brule, with red in his sights, landed a solid shoulder-to-shoulder shock that sent Brunette violently to the ice.

Bloomington, MN native Tom Gilbert scored his sixth goal of the season tonight -- his second goal scored at Xcel Energy Center this year. His last goal was scored vs. Tampa Bay on Dec. 10, 2010; a total of 48 games between tallies. In addtion, Linus Omark's third period power-play goal was his first marker in 26 games. His previous goal was scored on Jan. 25 vs. Phoenix.

"We had a really good start to the game. Then they scored their first one that was off a skate, and then they scored their second one that was off a skate. That being said, there are some coverage issues that have to happen before you get a bad break at your net."

-  Head Coach Tom Renney on the start vs. Minnesota

Saturday, April 2 at Vancouver
  8:00pm MDT (CBC / 630 CHED)

The Oilers wrap up a quick two-game road trip with a stop in Vancouver Saturday night. Game-time is 8:00pm MDT and all the action can be seen on Hockey Night in Canada.

Author: Ryan Dittrick |

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