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Niklas Backstrom, Mark Parrish lead Wild past the Oilers 5-2

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Missing their top two forwards again, the Minnesota Wild let loose.

They got goals up and down the lineup from all over the ice, with little resistance by the depleted Edmonton defence. Niklas Backstrom kept up his mastery of the Oilers, and Mark Parrish scored twice for the Wild in a 5-2 victory Monday night.

"Some pretty goals, some backdoor goals, some ugly tip goals. We had it all going, and that's good," said Parrish, who is second on the team with six goals.

Pierre-Marc Bouchard, Kurtis Foster and Stephane Veilleux also scored and Mikko Koivu was credited with three assists for the Wild, who woke up their power play with four extra-skater goals in 10 chances provided by their undisciplined and frustrated opponent. They fired away at former teammate Dwayne Roloson and forced a goalie change for the Oilers after the first period.

"A lot of times I talk about confidence when you're doing certain things, and it seems like we got that confidence," said coach Jacques Lemaire.

Edmonton has a league-low 10 standings points in 15 games and a handful of injuries to veteran defencemen, including all-star Sheldon Souray, but Minnesota was missing its entire original top line.

The absences didn't hurt the Wild as much as they could have.

Pavol Demitra missed his fifth game with a groin strain, and Marian Gaborik was out for the third time due to the same injury. Wes Walz, who centred the Slovak stars when the season started, has been away from the team since last Thursday for unspecified personal reasons.

But that gave others a chance for more time on the power play, and the additional minutes led to better production. Petteri Nummelin moved from defence to the wing and had two power-play assists. Foster, one of the team's best slap shooters, finally scored his first goal on a blast just inside the blue-line.

"It was nice to get some chances tonight and really contribute, when we're missing two big guys," said Foster, who contended that the Wild can be more prone to shoot with Demitra and Gaborik gone because their games are based on so much puck control.

Backstrom made 22 saves for the Wild, improving to 6-0-0 in his career against the Oilers. His streak of three straight shutouts against them ended, but he has only given up four goals in those six starts.

Edmonton scored a rare power-play goal, a tip-in by Dustin Penner, but went just 1-for-6 with the man advantage and fell to a league-worst 4-for-60 this season.

"We're a close-knit team, and we're going to stay positive," said Shawn Horcoff, who scored in the second period. "We've got a lot of injuries, but we're not making any excuses when it comes to losing games here. We're going to let go of this one and work hard tomorrow."

Edmonton just didn't play any defence. Roloson let three of the eight shots he faced get by, and he was pulled for Mathieu Garon after the deficit grew to 3-0. Coach Craig MacTavish was disappointed he didn't save Foster's long shot with 52 seconds left in the first period.

On Parrish's first goal, a simple give-and-go from Nummelin, Denis Grebeshkov let Parrish sneak behind him and Dick Tarnstrom let Nummelin's pass slip through the crease without interference.

"I think everybody in the building knew where the puck was going," MacTavish said.

The coach limited his criticism, though.

The crush of injuries to his blue-line has forced defencemen like Grebeshkov, Tarnstrom and Tom Gilbert into significant time on the penalty kill that they're not ready for. MacTavish was mostly upset with what he called desperate, undisciplined 5-on-5 play that led to all the penalties.

"You can commend the effort and intensity, but you've got to play this game with your head or else you're going to get picked apart. We were moving around the ice like chickens with our heads cut off," MacTavish said.

Notes: The Oilers will have a better feel for how they fare among their Northwest Division foes over the next two weeks. They began an eight-game stretch of division-only competition, with one against each opponent at home and on the road. "We've got a lot of good quality people in this room, and we all believe in each other that we can get it done," Horcoff said. . . . The Wild don't play again until Sunday, an unusual stretch of five straight days without a game. Lemaire said each player will get at least one day off from practice this week.


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