Wild.com's Dan Myers gives three takeaways from the Wild's 4-1 loss against the Edmonton Oilers at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul on Thursday night:
1. The Wild was never really able to get on track.
Edmonton's Darnell Nurse scored 2:15 into the contest on a shot from the left point that scooted into the net, giving the Oilers the early lead.
Both teams crept through the remainder of that period and into the second, where Ty Rattie scored off the rush 4:32 into the frame to make it 2-0.
Minnesota got on the board 2:50 into the third period to give the building some life, but Leon Draisaitl extinguished the comeback hopes in quick fashion, re-establishing the two-goal lead less than three minutes later.
While the Wild was able to stage late rallies to get points against both Chicago and Buffalo the last two games out, it was unable to do so versus the Oilers, who snapped a six-game winless streak and moved to within two points of the St. Louis Blues (!) for the second wild card position in the Western Conference.
Minnesota remains in the top wild card spot with 57 points, two ahead of the Blues and three behind the Dallas Stars for third in the Central Division (pending the Stars' game in Nashville).
2. Opportunity given, and opportunity taken.
With Mikko Koivu out for the season, the Wild recalled Joel Eriksson Ek from Iowa on Wednesday. The captain's absence will open up opportunity for several Wild players, but perhaps no more so than for Eriksson Ek, the 2015 first round pick who has been mostly limited to fourth-line minutes in his first 126 games in the NHL.
The young Swede took advantage on Thursday, scoring his third goal of the season moments into the third period to get the Wild on the board.
Video: EDM@MIN: Zucker sets up Eriksson Ek for 200th point
Eriksson Ek was playing well heading into the All-Star break but was sent to Iowa to get a couple more games of experience. When Minnesota came back from the break, its roster composition delayed his recall.
But over his past seven games with the NHL club, Eriksson Ek has two goals and two assists. Hopefully a good sign for the Wild moving forward.
3. Jason Zucker hit a milestone.
His primary assist on Eriksson Ek's third-period goal was his 200th point in the NHL. In doing so, Zucker became the 13th player in franchise history to reach 200 points in a Wild uniform. He stands two points behind Brian Rolston for 12th on that list and six back of Jason Pominville for 11th.
Luke Kunin earned the second assist on the goal, moving into a three-way tie for 105th on the franchise's scoring list, equalling Cam Barker and Eric Nystrom with 12.
Of course, the hope is that Kunin moves quickly up that list, and if his recent production is any indication, he should. The former Wisconsin Badger tallied a pair of assists in his first game back with the club on Tuesday.