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Wild rally in third to defeat Oilers

by Staff Writer / Edmonton Oilers
The newly-minted line of Michael Peca, Radek Dvorak and Todd Harvey got things off to a good start tonight for Edmonton, forechecking hard and creating a pair of scoring chances on the game's opening shift.

Neither team was able to generate much in the way of scoring chances through the first 15 minutes of the opening period. A lot of the play was in the neutral zone with Minnesota counter-punching the Oilers' attack to perfection. Shots on goal at that point in the game were 4-3 for Minnesota.

With four minutes left, the Oilers were finally able to get some decent chances on Manny Fernandez. Shawn Horcoff wristed a shot from the right circle and the Minnesota netminder had trouble corralling the rebound. Ryan Smyth was unable to jam it in.

Roloson didn't have to make a lot of stops in the opening frame but was sharp when tested. Kyle Wanvig broke in on a partial break and Roloson poked the puck away from him before Wanvig could make a move.

After a scoreless and penalty-free first period, Edmonton was outshooting Minnesota 8-5.

1:13 into the second, Andrei Zyuzin got the game's first penalty - a high-sticking minor - putting Edmonton on the man advantage.

On the ensuing power play, Ryan Smyth had a glorious chance after taking a feed across the crease but Fernandez robbed him on the one-time attempt by sliding his left pad over.

Minnesota capitalized before the next whistle as Wes Walz took a nice touch pass from Marian Gaborik and flipped it by Roloson to give the Wild a 1-0 lead.

The next five minutes of game play consisted of the Oilers pressing to get the equalizer, peppering five shots on Fernandez and creating a lot of chances down low. However, the Wild were able to weather the storm and maintain the one-goal lead.

Included in those chances was a battle for the puck behind the Wild net with, of all people, Ryan Smyth and Manny Fernandez. Smyth was actually able to gain possession on Fernandez but the Oilers were unable to centre the puck quickly enough to score on the vacant net.

Just before the game's midway point, Roloson made a nice stop during a scramble in front off Pierre-Marc Bouchard, who was able to pounce on a rebound in the slot to create the chance.

With 20 seconds left in a penalty to Marian Gaborik, Sergei Samsonov scored to tie the game up at 1-1. Smyth made a nifty backhand pass to Samsonov in the slot and the crafty Russian winger switched from backhand to forehand before firing the puck top corner.

Edmonton netted its second power play goal of the night at 17:50 of the period. Chris Pronger blasted a shot from the point that Stoll redirected to give the Oilers a 2-1 advantage.

Shots on goal after two periods were 19-12 for Edmonton.

Noted Oiler-killer Pierre-Marc Bouchard registered his 11th point in seven games against Edmonton this season early in the third period and it was a big one. Bouchard was sprung in alone by Zyuzin and after a quick deke move, put the puck five-hole on Roloson to tie the game at 2-2.

The Oilers almost regained the lead after Filip Kuba took a high-sticking penalty with 12 minutes left. The club was dangerous with the puck, pinning Minnesota in their zone for almost the entire man advantage but were unable to get the puck past Fernandez.

Several shifts after killing the penalty, Minnesota came back down the ice and scored to take the lead.

Brian Rolston broke in on a two-on-one with Bouchard and wristed the shot five hole to give Minnesota a 3-2 lead.

With 7:51 to play, the Oilers found themselves behind the eight ball after consecutive penalties to Samsonov and Peca put the team down two men for 1:17.

On the ensuing power play, Minnesota looked to move ahead by two goals when Rolston blasted a shot past Roloson from the right circle but a penalty was called on the play to Kurtis Foster which negated the goal.

In the final minute, Brian Rolston just narrowly missed scoring an empty-net goal as his attempt just went wide of the open cage.

NOTES: Heading into tonight's game, the Oilers only had one regulation loss all season when leading after two periods, while Minnesota had only a pair of wins in the same situation... Georges Laraque was out with a hip flexor injury tonight as Radek Dvorak returned to the lineup after missing three games with a hip flexor injury... Minnesota scratches were Daniel Tjarnqvist (bruised foot), Derek Boogaard and Pascal Dupuis... The shorthanded goal by Walz was Minnesota's ninth this season and fifth allowed by Edmonton... Ales Hemsky left the game early in the second period with a strained lower back and did not return.
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