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Postgame Hat Trick: Wild 5, Oilers 2

Graovac elevates Minnesota in first game back from break

by Dan Myers @1DanMyers / Wild.com

Recap: MIN 5, EDM 2

Kuemper, Graovac lead Wild to 5-2 win against Oilers

Darcy Kuemper made 41 saves on 43 shots and Tyler Graovac potted two goals to help lead the Wild to a 5-2 victory against the Oilers

  • 05:00 •

Wild.com's Dan Myers gives three takeaways from the Wild's 5-2 victory against the Edmonton Oilers at Rogers Place in Edmonton on Tuesday night:

1. Minnesota (33-11-5) got its four-game road trip off to a good start and extended its winning streak in Edmonton to eight games.

The win also completed the Wild's regular-season sweep of the Oilers (28-16-8), who entered the night tied for the Pacific Division lead with 64 points. 

Combined with Washington's 3-2 loss to the New York Islanders on Tuesday, the Wild has the highest points percentage in the NHL (.724). After Chicago's 3-1 loss to the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday, Minnesota now leads the Central Division by six points with three games in hand.

Video: Locker Room Postgame at Edmonton

After a red-hot month of December, in which the Wild won a franchise-record 12 consecutive games, Tuesday put a cap on yet another fantastic month for Minnesota, which finished January with a 10-2-1 record. The Wild is now 22-3-2 over its past 27 games since the beginning of December, the first of which was the second game of Minnesota's last four-game trip to western Canada.

Minnesota also ran its road unbeaten streak to 14 games, going 12-0-2 during that span.

Video: Bruce Boudreau Postgame at Edmonton

"Don't tell anybody," joked Wild coach Bruce Boudreau. "[The players] have a lot of confidence. They come out and play hard. When you do that and you get timely goals ... those are important."

2. Tyler Graovac got the Wild on the board just past the midway point of the first period then scored again in the second for his first career multi-goal game.

It was the second straight game with a goal for Graovac, who potted his second career game winner in a win over the Blues in the final game before the All-Star break. 

"It all kind of starts with building from day one. And whether you want to look way back or what not, for me, it's all about starting a new role and adjusting to it," Graovac said. "When you have a team that's so deep in a way where all the lines can score, you want to try and find something that might be wrong with it. But when we're winning like we are, guys don't mind the credit that they get.

"If one line's hot one night and the next line's not that hot, it doesn't really matter because we're winning and that's the biggest thing this year."

Video: MIN@EDM: Graovac slots home goal from the doorstep

The first goal came after an effective shift by the Wild's fourth line, which picked up where it left off before the break. Defenseman Matt Dumba fired a shot from the point toward the goal. It Plinko'd off a pair of Oilers defensemen in front and onto the blade of Graovac, who dug the puck out of his skates, worked it to his forehand and slipped it around goaltender Cam Talbot at 13:09 of the first period.

Video: MIN@EDM: Graovac jams home his second of the game

Graovac added his second of the night after Mikael Granlund forced a turnover along the right wing wall, then worked a masterful give-and-go with Graovac for an easy finish into an open net. While the two-goal night was a first, Graovac is still looking for his first NHL assist, something he thought he might have a chance at when he dished back to Granlund.

"The guys had kind of been bugging me about getting an apple, so I wanted to kind of give it back and hopefully he was just going to one-tee it in. But I can't complain," Graovac said. "As soon as he caught it, caught the pass from his backhand and it wasn't even a good pass, we kind of locked eyes and you could just see that I was getting it back for sure. Play with a guy like that and it's special."

Granlund's assist extended his point streak to 10 games, tying him with Andrew Brunette and Erik Haula for the club record, one he will look to break Wednesday in Calgary.

3. Speaking of picking up where he left off, the All-Star break did nothing to cool Jason Zucker.

Video: MIN@EDM: Zucker flips quick shot past Talbot

His second period goal didn't go down as the game-winner, but it certainly was a game-definer, as Zucker scooped up a centering poke from Mikko Koivu and fired a shot through Talbot with just 3.6 seconds left in the second period. 

"[The win] was what we needed to do; that was a huge key for us," Zucker said. "We wanted to make sure that we started strong and got off on the right foot. Then you try and carry this into Calgary and throughout the rest of the trip."

Then, as Minnesota killed off a delay of game penalty to Darcy Kuemper, Zucker played the part of decoy as Chris Stewart emerged from the penalty box and took Zucker's pass into the offensive zone. 

Video: MIN@EDM: Stewart scores after exiting penalty box

On 2-on-1 with No. 16, Stewart glided up the left wing boards and tossed a shot toward Oilers relief goaltender Laurent Brossoit that beat him through the five hole for the dagger with 15:24 remaining in regulation.

"That's a pretty nice shot," Zucker said. "We both knew that was coming from the time he got the puck."

Any hope of getting the puck back?

"Not a chance," Zucker quipped. "He's good at that shot, so I knew that was his spot."

"I felt bad. I kind of slowed up and let him get back into the play and looked him off there," Stewart said. "But he got a touch on it first there, so just go with it."

Zucker, who was a plus-3 on the night (and a plus-30 for the season), now has 13 points in his past 14 games (7-6=13).

Bonus Take: Wild goaltender Darcy Kuemper filled the box score on Tuesday, racking up 41 saves, an assist and two penalty minutes.

The 41 stops tied his career high and was a season best for Wild goaltenders. 

Video: MIN@EDM: Kuemper stops Eberle's shot, covers puck

Video: MIN@EDM: Kuemper turns away Draisaitl's shot

Video: MIN@EDM: Kuemper shuts the door on Kassian

"He played great; I thought it was his best game of the year," Boudreau said. "He controlled rebounds. That's sort of been a little bit of a problem in the past when he has been having a rough night. But tonight, he controlled them really well and caught pucks and settled things down for us when we needed things settled down."

Kuemper's assist on Stewart's goal was his first NHL point and provided this beauty of a statistic:

Tweet from @1DanMyers: Interesting stat: If this score holds, Darcy Kuemper will have more points in the three meetings with Edmonton than Connor McDavid.

There was little Kuemper could do about either goal scored against him: One was a deflection in front of his crease and the other, a one-timer snipe by Leon Draisaitl, came with Edmonton on the power play.

It was exactly what the doctor ordered for Kuemper, who has looked better of late after a rocky start to the season.

"It's been kind of funny, because I've felt good, especially lately; just sometimes the result hasn't been there," Kuemper said. "It was nice to feel good in there and keep the score down. Just gotta keep working and the guys, they made it pretty easy tonight."


Loose Pucks

• Minnesota blocked 21 shots, including three apiece by Matt Dumba and Marco Scandella.

• Talbot allowed four goals on 19 shots before giving way to Brossoit at the 12:44 mark of the second period. Brossoit finished with 15 saves on 16 shots.

• The Wild scored four-plus goals for the 21st time (49 games). It accomplished the feat 20 times in 82 games last season.

Video: MIN@EDM: Parise backhands home his own rebound

Zach Parise scored his ninth goal of the year and first since Jan. 7 in Los Angeles, a stretch of 11 games.


He Said It

"That's how it's been for a while, and I think it's been a key to us winning and our success. You get three goals from your so-called fourth line, that makes a huge difference." -- Wild forward Zach Parise on Minnesota's ability to get contributions from up and down the lineup


They Said It

"We were flat, we didn't execute well, we weren't good around our net. They were the better team. We got what we deserved." -- Oilers coach Todd McLellan


Dan's Three Stars

* Tyler Graovac

** Darcy Kuemper

*** Jason Zucker

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