EDMONTON – The Minnesota Wild came into Thursday’s game against the Edmonton Oilers with the league’s best power play.
But it was their penalty kill that made the difference as the Wild held the Oilers to two goals on 10 power-play appearances and Kyle Brodziak scored a pair of goals in a 4-2 win over the Oilers.
Guillaume Latendresse and Brent Burns also scored for the Wild, who won their second straight and improved to 3-2-1.
Minnesota head coach Todd Richards credited his penalty killers for yeoman work on the night.
“It starts with your goaltender, he made some big saves for us,” he said. “Guys really paid the price blocking shots. It was a real team effort there. When you are killing that much, you end up having to use a lot of guys. There were all very effective in what they did and it was the difference in the game.”
Brodziak, a former Oiler, was glad to be able to contribute, regardless of whether or not it was against his old team.
“You want every night to be a good night but it does feel good to contribute offensively to get the win,” he said. “It doesn’t matter what team it is, you just want to make a difference out there.”
Ales Hemsky and Shawn Horcoff replied for the Oilers (2-3-1) who have now lost three in a row.
But the best player on the ice for the Oilers was first overall draft pick Taylor Hall. Despite being held off the scoresheet, Hall was all over the place in the game, earning second star status.
Oilers head coach Tom Renney has heard rumblings out there that Edmonton should return Hall to junior and hopes that a game like the one he had against the Wild silences the critics.
“It was reassuring, no question, because he has been in question,” he said. “Although not internally at all. We believe in this kid. He hasn’t had a bad game yet. He certainly has had a best game now.
“He has proven to me from the get-go that he belongs in the National Hockey League. He just made another case for himself tonight.”
Hall also felt like he had made a step forward, regardless of only having one point through five career NHL games.
“Other than the score sheet I thought I put part of the things together I want to be putting together,” he said. “Even though we didn’t win, I thought it was a pretty good game we played.”
Minnesota scored first less than three minutes into the opening period as Brodziak—stoned on a 2-on-1 by Oilers starter Nikolai Khabibulin—was left alone at the side of the net to dig out the rebound for his first of the season.
Brodziak had his second of the game three minutes later, taking a backhand pass from Latendresse and rifling a shot into the Edmonton net.
The Oilers cut into the lead 12:42 into the first while on the power play. Defenceman Kurtis Foster picked up his first point as an Oiler, sending the puck from the point to Hemsky who feathered a shot past Wild starter Niklas Backstrom.
But just over a minute later the Wild responded with a power-pay goal of their own, as Latendresse’s shot hit the stick of defender Jim Vandermeer and caromed into the goal.
Edmonton had the bulk of the quality chances in the scoreless second, outshooting the Wild 15-8. The best chance came with the man advantage as Backstrom got a piece of a point-blank shot by Sam Gagner and the puck trickled just wide of the net.
The Oilers pulled back to within one eight minutes into the third as Horcoff batted in a backhand from in tight that got past Backstrom. The goal came on Edmonton’s ninth power play of the night.
Burn’s empty-net goal put the game away for Minnesota.
The Wild travel to Vancouver for a match on Friday night while the Oilers next play host to San Jose on Saturday.
Notes: It was the second of six meetings between the two teams this season. The Wild won the first match 4-2 a week ago in Minnesota, its 14th consecutive win at home over the Oilers. … The Wild came into the game with the best power play in the league, scoring 11 of their 16 goals this season with the man advantage. … Backstrom has now started all six games for the Wild but is expected to sit on Friday in Vancouver so that Jose Theodore can get his first start for the Wild since signing as a free agent on Oct. 1.