ST. PAUL, Minn. – Up three goals in the first period against the worst team in the Western Conference, the Minnesota Wild appeared to be rolling to an easy win.
However, the Edmonton Oilers refused to roll over.
The Oilers scored twice in the final 9 minutes of regulation to force overtime, then completed their comeback when Taylor Hall scored in the fourth round of the shootout to lift Edmonton to a 4-3 victory over the Wild on Tuesday night.
“We got really complacent when we were up 3-0,” the Wild’s Zach Parise said. “Just (a) lack of energy on the bench even when we were up 3-0. You could just sense, even though we were up 3-0, we weren’t feeling good. We played with no intensity, no urgency.”
Minnesota now holds a three-point lead over Dallas for the No. 7 spot in the Western Conference, with Phoenix just a point behind the Stars. The Stars and Coyotes both won on Tuesday, making the Wild’s loss sting a bit more.
Zach Parise, Jared Spurgeon, and Jason Pominville scored in 4-minute, 16-second span of the first period to put the Wild up 3-0. But they missed other key opportunities to put the game away, including a 5-on-3 power play midway through the second period and another man advantage late in regulation that extended into overtime.
“I thought that we were a little bit lucky to be up 3-0. You could tell that we weren’t on it right away,” Wild coach Mike Yeo said. “We addressed it, we talked about it, but we weren’t able to find it. You’re obviously playing with fire when you’re doing that.”
Jeff Petry got the Oilers on the scoreboard about 90 seconds after the Wild’s flurry, and David Perron and Jordan Eberle scored in the third period to tie it. Andrew Ference had two assists.
Viktor Fasth finished with 28 saves through overtime to help Edmonton win for the third time in four games.
“I’m proud of them. It would’ve been real easy to pack it in, call it a night and get on to the next game, but our guys refused to do it,” Oilers coach Dallas Eakins said. “They just kept scrapping and clawing and it’s tough against a team like that.”
In the shootout, Hall beat Darcy Kuemper with a forehand after each team scored in the first two rounds. Fasth stopped two straight shots before Hall slipped the game-winner between Kuemper’s pads.
“It’s been a while since I’ve taken a shootout shot. I was kind of panicking a bit, but (Eberle) told me he thought five-hole would be there, and sure enough, fake shot, five-hole,” Hall said. “It was good to see that one go in.”
Mikael Granlund had a pair of assists for the Wild, who have lost three straight, including the last two in shootouts.
Parise opened the scoring on the power play, taking a pass from Granlund and beating Fasth with his own rebound for his 22nd goal of the season with 9:53 left in the first.
Minnesota doubled its lead when Spurgeon’s slap shot from the right point hit Oilers defenceman Justin Schultz in the leg and deflected past a screened Fasth with 6:14 to go. Pominville made it 3-0 with 4:37 left in the first when he scored his team-leading 24th of the year off a feed from Granlund, who had chased down a loose puck behind the net.
Petry then fired a shot from the right corner that hit traffic in front of the net and skipped past Kuemper with 3:05 left in the period to get Edmonton on the board.
The Wild controlled the pace for most of the second period, but they couldn’t beat Fasth, who held them at bay during an extended 5-on-3 power play when Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Ryan Smyth were each called for hooking within 36 seconds.
Parise said the Wild’s struggles on the power play were frustrating, “but it goes way beyond that. If you’re up 3-0, you can’t give up three straight.”
Perron tipped in Ference’s pass for his team-leading 24th goal with just under 9 minutes to play in the third to cut Minnesota’s lead to 3-2.
Eberle tied it with 4:53 to go in regulation, scoring off a long rebound given up by Kuemper. Ference fired the puck into the Minnesota zone from centre ice, but Kuemper could not control the carom. Eberle beat Ryan Suter to the puck in the high slot and slipped a wrist shot past Kuemper for his 21st goal of the year.
Edmonton’s Matt Hendricks took a 2-minute minor with 8.7 seconds left in regulation when he inadvertently shot the puck into the crowd in his defensive zone. But the Oilers killed off the penalty, and Parise later hit the post as the Wild failed to put the game away.
NOTES: Wild F Matt Cooke played in his 1,000th NHL game. He was honoured by the Wild in a pregame ceremony that featured taped greetings from former teammates and opponents on the Xcel Energy Center scoreboard. … Fasth was making his first appearance with the Oilers after being acquired from Anaheim in a trade on March 4.