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Nolan, Backstrom help Wild blank Oilers

ST. PAUL, Minnesota (AP) -- Owen Nolan is doing his best to get

the Minnesota Wild into the playoffs.

Nolan scored two goals to lift the Minnesota Wild to a 3-0 win

over the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday.

The Wild moved within a point behind Nashville, which was idle

on Sunday, in the race for eighth place in the Western

Conference. The Oilers are seventh, two points ahead of the


"We're in desperate mode right now and have to get everything we

can," Nolan said. "Especially playing a team that's within

reach, we've got to make sure we close the gap."

Edmonton, which entered the game without a regulation loss in

its previous seven games, was frustrated throughout by

Minnesota. Wild goaltender Nicklas Backstrom had 31 saves for

his seventh shutout of the season as the game also featured the

return of star forward Marian Gaborik.

"You hate to see the 30-plus shot shutouts. That means you're

getting pucks to the net," Oilers coach Craig MacTavish said.

"If you're committed enough there you should be able to get some

offense. We just didn't pay as big a price as we had in the last

number of games."

The Oilers outshot Minnesota 15-2 in the first period and

repeatedly pressured Backstrom during three power plays.

Minnesota rebounded in the second period, snapping off a

franchise-record 23 shots and scoring the game's first goal on a

power play. After Dwayne Roloson stopped a long-range shot,

Nolan pushed the rebound over the goal line at 14:26.

"We came out and we were tight. Really tight," Minnesota coach

Jacques Lemaire said. "Not skating, afraid to make mistakes. We

didn't move the puck well. We turned the puck over. Everyone

knew we would play better in the second."

Nolan, who signed with Minnesota as a free agent last summer,

scored again in the third period after a nice pass from James

Sheppard at 4:26. It was the team-best 22nd goal for Nolan.

Stephane Veilleux was credited with Minnesota's third goal at

12:43 of the third. He was closest to the play when Edmonton

defenseman Tom Gilbert inadvertently banked a pass off the skate

of teammate Sam Gagner and into the Oilers' net.

"If you're a team that can generate 15 shots in one period

against the Minnesota Wild you know you can create

opportunities, so that's one positive we can take from it,"

Edmonton's Shawn Horcoff said.

It was just the seventh game of 2008-09 for Gaborik, who played

the first two games in October, missed two months, played four

games in December (scoring twice), and had been out again since

just before Christmas after having hip surgery. He will be a

free agent at the end of the season and turned down a contract

extension during training camp.

That, and the fact that he's missed 94 games due to injury since

2005, has drawn the ire of many Wild fans. Still, Gaborik was

greeted mostly with cheers, drowning out a smattering of boos,

when he was introduced on Sunday.

"I was a little nervous before the game, but as soon as I hit

the ice, everything went well," said Gaborik, who played just

shy of 18 minutes and had six shots.

Roloson, who is 0-6-2 in his past eight starts against his

former team, had 33 saves.


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