Hemsky scored twice in regulation and added a goofy goal for the shootout winner as the Oilers ended a two-game losing skid with a 5-4 win over the Minnesota Wild on Thursday night.
After scoring a truly beautiful goal in the third, Hemsky went in with the shootout tied 1-1 and got an ugly one as he lost the handle on the puck, only to see it sneak through the legs of Wild netminder Josh Harding.
“I kind of lost it there but it went in anyway,” said Hemsky. “It’s nice to get the break and have some luck. I’ll take the goal, no question.”
He’ll take the two he scored in regulation as well, his first two markers of the season.
“I knew it would come but I didn’t know when,” he said. “I was hoping and hoping it wouldn’t take something like 20 games. I just wasn’t getting any breaks. That changed tonight.”
The Oilers as a team haven’t had many breaks to start the season and head coach Craig MacTavish felt they were due to get some fortunate bounces.
“We were talking about getting some breaks and they came tonight,” he said. “We’d already had a couple and then we got the final one in the shootout.”
Shawn Horcoff also scored twice and added two assists for Edmonton (4-6-0), which won for just the second time in its last eight games. It was also the first time in seven games and only the fourth in their last 17 that Edmonton was able to defeat the Wild.
James Sheppard, Pierre-Marc Bouchard, Brian Rolston and Mark Parrish answered for Minnesota (7-1-2), which lost for the second time in as many nights but has still recorded points in all but one of its games this season.
After allowing Calgary to come from behind and hand them their first loss of the year the night previous, Wild forward Rolston said it was good to battle back from a disadvantage in Edmonton.
“We let a 3-0 lead slip away last night and were down in this one and could have easily thrown in the towel there,” he said. “But we didn’t. We kept battling and grinding away.”
The Oilers entered Thursday having had nothing but trouble against the Wild in recent history, scoring just twice in its last six meetings with Minnesota. Edmonton equalled that total in the first period alone.
The Oilers got to Harding just three and a half minutes in, as defenceman Ladislav Smid’s wrist shot was tipped into the net by Horcoff.
Edmonton extended its lead midway through the first, after Hemsky picked up a loose puck up in front of the net and snapped a shot over Harding’s shoulder.
After some sustained pressure in the second period, Minnesota cut into the lead on Sheppard’s first career NHL goal, knocking his own rebound past Oilers netminder Dwayne Roloson.
Edmonton bounced back less than a minute later, as Horcoff’s shot hit Harding, bounced off Wild defender Kim Johnsson and went in. It was only Edmonton’s second power-play goal in 38 attempts on the season.
Minnesota drew to within one with five minutes remaining in the period after Nick Schultz’s point shot was deflected in front and trickled past Roloson to Bouchard, who sent a backhand shot into the open net.
Rolston evened the score early in the third period, converting an Eric Belanger shot that caromed off defender Tom Gilbert’s skates directly to him at the side of the goal.
Edmonton regained the lead five minutes later on a highlight reel goal by Hemsky as he undressed Johnsson and deked out Harding before sliding it through his legs.
“I think that was the best he’s ever scored,” said Horcoff. “From the ice it looked like he lost the puck three times. We were yelling shoot, shoot. And then the second time it looked like he lost it he put it five-hole. It was something else.”
“He can make the best of defencemen look pretty silly at times,” added MacTavish.
Minnesota rallied midway through the period to tie the game up and send it to the shootout, as Roloson mishandled a glove save on a shot by Parrish and it trickled over the line.
Edmonton travels to L.A. to face the Kings on Saturday while the Wild wrap up a three-game road swing in Colorado on Sunday.
Notes: Edmonton F Sam Gagner played in his ninth game of the season, the maximum he is allowed to spend with the Oilers before the first year of his contract kicks in. Considering that the team told him to move from his hotel room into a more permanent residence, it would appear he is staying. … Hemsky’s first-period goal was his 200th NHL point. … Pavol Demitra (groin) missed his second game in a row. He has three goals and five assists in eight games. … Wild G Niklas Backstrom, who did not get the start, has been an Oiler killer throughout his career with three shutouts and five wins in five meetings. Harding’s only previous start against the Oilers was a shutout win.