Joffrey Lupul and Marc-Andre Bergeron both scored power-play goals, giving the Edmonton Oilers a 2-1 victory over Minnesota on Tuesday night and sending the Wild to their third consecutive home loss. Very out of the ordinary for the Wild, who led the NHL in home wins for much of the season’s first three months.
The Oilers, who have the league’s best penalty-kill unit on the road, held Minnesota scoreless in six power-play chances to snap a seven-game losing streak against Northwest Division opponents. Minnesota broke a team-record, 11-game road losing streak last week, winning consecutive road games in Vancouver, Edmonton and Chicago.
Suddenly, the Wild are vulnerable at home.
“I think you need a lucky goal sometimes to turn a streak around,” said Oilers assistant coach Craig Simpson, who filled in while head coach Craig MacTavish travelled to London, Ont., to be with his ailing mother. “Lupul’s goal on the power play was a bit of a lucky one and really allowed us to settle into our game a little bit more.”
Lupul scored late in the first, bouncing a shot off Wild defenceman Martin Skoula and past goalie Manny Fernandez. Bergeron scored on a long shot in the second period as the Oilers won a division game for the first time since beating Minnesota 3-1 on Dec. 14.
“It’s been a while,” Oilers goalie Dwayne Roloson said of the division losing streak. “We’ve got things to work on, but we’ll take a win.”
Wes Walz got Minnesota’s goal on its 25th shot, snapping a low shot past Roloson with just less than eight minutes left.
Roloson stopped 28 shots – including a glove save of Skoula’s blast with 8.4 seconds to play – to beat his former team for the third time since coming to Edmonton in a trade with Minnesota last March.
Fernandez had 16 saves for the Wild.
Edmonton emerged with a 1-0 lead from a first period most notable for players heading to the training room. Four members of the Wild – Keith Carney, Todd White, Mark Parrish and Kurtis Foster – had to be helped from the ice in the first 11 minutes.
“It’s tough because I feel we really, really played well, for the type of team we are and after what happened in the first,” Minnesota coach Jacques Lemaire said. “It’s too bad we had no breaks in getting goals.”
Carney returned briefly but his playing time was limited due to back spasms. White and Foster did not play the rest of the game due to lower-body injuries and will be given MRI exams on Wednesday. Parrish, who took Raffi Torres’ high stick to the face, returned in the second period.
“I’ve never seen anything like that,” Walz said. “It’s like they were cutting down trees out there.”
After Edmonton killed nearly a minute of 5-on-3 power-play time early in the second, Bergeron doubled the lead with a hard shot from the blue-line that caught the lower left corner of the net.
Notes: The Wild assigned Joel Ward to Houston of the AHL. The rookie right wing had played in the team’s previous three games without recording a point. Ward has one assist in nine games with Minnesota this season. … Edmonton D Steve Staios didn’t travel to Minnesota, missing his fourth consecutive game with the flu and a nagging knee injury. … The lineups featured three alums from Bloomington Jefferson High School in suburban Minneapolis. Parrish, Oilers forward Toby Petersen and rookie defenceman Tom Gilbert all played youth and prep hockey there.