Konichiwa, State of Hockey Legion!
Today marks the calculated day that Greek king Odysseus returned home from the Trojan War. Like the Greek king’s odyssey, the Wild is amid an epic journey of its own, and closes out a back-to-back road swing through Alberta tonight against the Edmonton Spills, also known as the Oilers.
The Wild don’t need a Trojan Horse to proceed tonight, as it will have the ultimate weapon in net against the Oilers. Goaltender Niklas Backstrom has been an Oilers stopper, going 24-3-1 with a 1.79 GAA and a .933 SV% in 30 starts against Edmonton. That’s better than Achilles’ record in battle.
As for the forwards, there is only one change to report; Mikael Granlund, who is on emergency recall, is in for Mike Rupp who is day-to-day with a lower-body injury. The rookie will skate on the wing with Torrey Mitchell and Cal Clutterbuck.
The blue line will be the same as the team’s last outings, so Nate Prosser and Justin Falk are healthy scratches. Zenon Konopka is out with a lower-body injury and didn’t travel with the team. Josh Harding has been assigned to the Houston Aeros, the Wild’s American Hockey League affiliate, for a conditioning stint, which is a great sign.
The Wild is rocking its road whites, while the Oilers sport its classic blues with oil-drip logo.
As usual, you can follow the action on Twitter at @mnwildLIVE.
Turn it up!
Period 1 - MIN 1, EDM 1
The Wild got off to another fast start in the opening frame, but the Oilers answered midway through the first.
The Kyle Brodziak line produced another goal, and this time it was the center who was rewarded. The line broke in on an odd-man rush with Pierre-Marc Bouchard controlling the puck across the blue line. He fired the puck on net for a juicy rebound. The Oilers mishandled the puck and Brodziak was Johnny on the spot and pounded home the loose puck. Somehow Bouchard hasn't been credited with an assist and the explanation was that Sam Gagner made a 'hockey play' before Brodzkiak put the puck home.
The Oilers evened things up with a fortunate bounce. The puck was lost in Brett Clark's gear and rolled out, right onto Nail Yakupov's stick. The rookie fired home the rolling puck, squaring things up.
Good opening road period for the Wild, as the club controlled much of the play and outshot the Oilers, 11-7. Time to build on it the second.
Period 2 - MIN 3, EDM 1
The Wild picked up where it left off in the second period and was all over the Oilers. Minnesota was able to sustain pressure with physical play and it paid off in two goals.
Minnesota opened the scoring in the middle frame with a tip-in goal from Charlie Coyle. Clayton Stoner held in an Oilers clearing attempt at the blue line and fired a slap shot through traffic that Coyle tipped past Dubnyk low along the ice. It was Coyle's seventh of the season.
Mikael Granlund, who was an emergency call up today for the injured Mike Rupp, extended the Wild's lead. Stoner fired a shot from the point that went wide and bounced back in front of the net. Torrey Mitchell was crashing the net and picked up the puck and threw it out front, right onto the tape of Granlund. The rookie buried it into the opening on the right side for his second goal of the season.
The Wild again was strong and outshot the Oilers, 12-6, in the middle frame. Only twenty miles and we can all go out for a cold one after the game. I'm talking to you KG.
Period 3 - MIN 5, EDM 3
The Wild opened up a big lead in the third, with the Oilers made a late push, but the game was never really in doubt.
It was a quick start for Minnesota, as the team started the period on the power play. Zach Parise went to work, trying to jam home a loose puck. He swooped around the net and finally stuffed home his own rebound. Jason Pominville and Ryan Suter assisted on the play.
The Wild scored its fifth goal on a beautiful set up and finish. Pierre-Marc Bouchard moved to Pominville on the half-wall in the defensive zone. Pominville went cross-ice with a saucer pass to a breaking Brodziak. The center was all alone, made a forehand move and slid the puck past Dubnyk.
The Oilers ended the Wild's 13-straight penalty kill streak for its second goal. Taylor Hall cut out of the corner and slid the puck across the crease to Shawn Horcoff for a tap-in goal. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins picked up the second assist.
Edmonton scored another goal in garbage time, but that was it. Magnus Paajarvi put home a Yakupov rebound. Jeff Petry was given the second assist.
The Wild closes out its three-game road trip on Thursday in San Jose. Don't miss it.