EDMONTON – The Wild made a clean sweep of their Northwest Division rivals from Edmonton.
Mikko Koivu and Pierre-Marc Bouchard both had three assist games on Friday as Minnesota ended a three-game skid with a fight-filled 3-1 victory over the Oilers.
Andrew Brunette, Brent Burns and Jared Spurgeon scored for the Wild (38-35-8), who have just three wins in their last 14 games but won all six contests this season against Edmonton.
Oilers head coach Tom Renney said he can’t explain why the Wild had his team’s number this season.
“It just happens,”he said.“They aren’t into our psyche. There is nothing we can’t overcome here. We had a real good shot against this team tonight. We just ran out of gas because of the penalty situation. We have every reason to think we can beat them and we’ll take that into next season.”
Teemu Hartikainen responded for the Oilers (25-45-11) who have locked up last place in the NHL with only two wins in their last 15 matches.
The Oilers’ Theo Peckham and Wild defenceman Clayton Stoner got the game off to a rough start with a prolonged fight at centre ice immediately after the opening face-off.
It would launch a violent first period that featured several scuffles and cheap shots.
“You build up rivalries with teams and don’t forget what has happened in the past,”said Wild forward Brad Staubitz of the early spate of fisticuffs.
“We came in here with a mindset of coming in and playing hard and to get our 20th road win. We had a tough loss in Vancouver and we played hard and with emotion. That was a long first period but I thought we stuck together and fared well.”
“It was a rough one at the start, but after that we were able to play some good hockey,”added Bouchard.
Minnesota was given a seven-minute power play after a one-sided scrap when Edmonton’s Steve MacIntyre jumped Staubitz after the Wild forward took a run at rookie Magnus Paajarvi.
“He’s a great teammate,”Renney said of MacIntyre.“He’ll do whatever he can to protect his teammates. He certainly took it upon himself to do that.”
Just over a minute into the long power play the Wild gave some of that advantage back as Cal Clutterbuck was given a major penalty for running Peckham into the boards.
However, the Wild did get a goal near the tail end of the MacIntyre power play as Burns scored on a 4-on-3 advantage with Edmonton’s Chris VandeVelde also in the penalty box, serving a double minor for high-sticking.
Minnesota went ahead 2-0 early in the second as Bouchard’s shot deflected off an Oiler defender to Spurgeon in front of the slot for an easy tap-in past Oilers goalie Devan Dubnyk.
Less than a minute and a half later Edmonton responded with a tap-in goal of its own as Jordan Eberle sent a puck from the side of the net past goaltender Jose Theodore to Hartikainen who had a completely open net.
Edmonton came close to tying the game with eight minutes to play in the second but a power-play shot by Jim Vandermeer rattled off of the post.
The Oilers looked to have scored on the power play with five minutes left as the puck was pushed in during a mad scramble in front of the Wild net, but the officials ruled that the whistle had been blown before the puck crossed the line.
Minnesota went into a defensive shell from there and sealed the game with an empty-netter from Brunette with 49 seconds left.
Both non-playoff bound teams finish out their seasons on Sunday. The Wild host the Dallas Stars while the Oilers are in Colorado.
Notes: Both teams have struggled with injuries but the Wild got a couple players back for the game as Chuck Kobasew returned from missing their last game for personal reasons and Clutterbuck came back from suffering a illness. … Eberle locked up the Oilers scoring title with his 43rd point of the season, surpassing Taylor Hall, Ales Hemsky and Sam Gagner, who are all injured for the rest of the season. … Wild goalie Jose Theodore, who had lost four of his last five starts, hadn’t faced Edmonton since Jan. 13, 2009. … The Oilers held a pre-game ceremony for retiring singer Paul Lorieau, who has been the primary anthem singer at Edmonton home games for the club since 1981.