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Wild's power play comes up big in victory over Oilers

Minnesota's man advantage strikes three times as Wild salvages back-to-back split in Western Canada

by Dan Myers @MNWildScribe /

EDMONTON -- Bruce Boudreau's half-empty, half-full quandary is solved, if only for one night. 

Asked earlier in the day Tuesday how he chose to view his team's power play, which had begun to generate looks and scoring chances but hadn't had consistent results, Boudreau pulled out an old metaphor to color his thoughts.

Some would view the glass as half full. Boudreau, ever the results-focused coach, admitted it was half empty.

Not anymore.

The Wild's power play scored three times, including Mikael Granlund's game winner with under six minutes to play in a 4-3 win against the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday at Rogers Place. 

Tweet from @mnwild: Hear from Bruce Boudreau following #mnwild���s 4-3 win in Edmonton as the club comes out with a better start, 3 PPGs and more.

"Full. I can't have another drink," Boudreau quipped when asked if his glass was still dwindling. "It was really good tonight. I think that's five goals in the last three games. It's starting to come along, so that's a really positive sign."

Slow starts and a skittish power play have haunted the Wild early in the season. Despite a 6-3-2 start to the season, Minnesota's man advantage ranked in the bottom 10 in the NHL entering the night. 

It's been a point of emphasis for the Wild coaching staff in recent days. The scoring chances have been better. It capitalized once on Monday in a loss in Vancouver.

Tuesday in Edmonton, the floodgates opened.

"We are still getting comfortable with our set up and our guys and how we move," said Wild forward Eric Staal. "I thought we did a little bit of a better job of shooting pucks and had a little bit more of an attack mentality toward the net. Anytime we can do that on the power play and 5 on 5 we're going to generate what feels like a lot more second chances."

Video: MIN@EDM: Staal deflects the puck in for PPG

Staal's tip of a Ryan Suter shot from the point late in the second period tied the score at 3-3 heading to intermission, setting up Mikael Granlund's snipe with just under six minutes to play.

Both goals came with the extra attacker, as did Zach Parise's first-period goal, which got the Wild on the board. 

"To get us tied up and into the game, get us the lead. You have to have good special teams," Parise said. "You have to be able to score on the power play. That was the difference tonight."

Minnesota's power-play set up is incumbent on the threat of a shot from the point, something that was evident on all three goals Tuesday.

When the Wild's power play has struggled, it often hasn't been because of a result of a lack of puck movement. On the contrary, it's sometimes been too much movement and not a willingness to find open lanes and fire.

Video: MIN@EDM: Parise cleans up rebound in front for PPG

Parise's goal came on a rebound of a Matt Dumba shot from the left point that was low, leaving Oilers goaltender Cam Talbot no choice but to spit out a rebound, where Parise pounced.

Staal's was a direct deflection of a Ryan Suter shot from the point, while Granlund's winner was labeled top shelf from the halfwall.

Video: MIN@EDM: Granlund snipes PPG from the circle

"We were a little bit more of an attack mentality," Staal said. "I think we were shooting pucks a little more, driving to the net on lanes that were open and jumping on loose pucks. We're pretty good at that in general, but after a shot, we're pretty tenacious on loose pucks and second chances."

One change in recent games has been putting Staal in the slot, where he's much more comfortable navigating traffic, getting deflections and going after loose pucks. 

In the past, he's closer to the circles in sort of an Alex Ovechkin or Patrik Laine-type role.

During a recent meeting of the minds, Granlund suggested moving some personnel around, and the results came in waves on Tuesday.

Tweet from @mnwild: ���He���s kind of our catalyst offensively. He creates plays, scores big goals for us, runs the power play...he���s the guy we look to in this group.��� - Alex Stalock on Mikael Granlund

"I'm not Ovechkin. I'm not Laine. To be able to be on that side on the outside one-timer it's a tough play," Staal said. "I think I'm better suited as a guy around the puck. I like to be around it. I like to have the touches. Obviously rebounds and tips is a little bit more of my game. Not that I can't do it. I just think the way that we're set up I'm better suited there. 

"We kind of made that switch on our own a little bit the last couple of games and talked to [Wild assistant coach] Dean [Evason] about it and he liked it and we went that way and it's getting better as we go."

Now the challenge for the Wild will be to keep the bounces on their side of the ledger as a stretch of games away from home continues Saturday in St. Louis, then to three games in California next week.

"There was a lot of good things with the power play and we've been doing a lot of better job with that. But sometimes those pucks are just going in," Granlund said. "Couple bounces and they go in. but we just need to keep going, keep shooting and keep getting those chances."


Postgame Hat Trick: Wild 4, Oilers 3

Video: Granlund, Staal lead Wild past Oilers, 4-3

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