ST. PAUL, Minnesota (AP) – The Edmonton Oilers have played with an edge and a desire to break out of their slump, taking full advantage of a sleepy start to Minnesota.
The Wild could certainly use some of the same urgency.
Darnell Nurse helped Edmonton by 2:15 in the first period, and the Oilers stopped a six-game losing streak with a 4-1 victory on Thursday night, bringing the Wild to a fourth. consecutive defeat.
"We were just hungry," said Oilers coach Ken Hitchcock.
Ty Rattie, Leon Draisaitl and Zack Kassian also scored, Connor McDavid and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins each have two assists and Cam Talbot bounced back after an early exit with 35 saves for the Oilers, who were only 5-13- 2 in their previous match. 20 games. They lost a third-period lead in each of those last three defeats. Talbot was eliminated Tuesday night against Chicago after conceding three goals in less than six minutes of the second break.
"I thought the guys were playing hard for him, and he played hard for them," said Hitchcock. "He has a bit of confidence right now, so that's a good sign."
Talbot won for the first time in four starts since January 10th.
"We needed this one. It's a hard building to play. They are usually very hot, "said Talbot. "Our start was great tonight. We all touched on them early and did the little things we had to do to win the hockey game in the long run. "
The Wild picked up the pace in the second period with a 15-5 advantage, but he found himself in a two-goal pit at the second break, due to Rattie's shot at Nugent's goal. Hopkins only 4:32 in the middle frame.
Joel Eriksson Ek scored the Wild's only goal at 2:50 of the third period, an encouraging sign for a team that just lost captain, center and defender Mikko Koivu, who had a knee injury for the rest of the season. Eriksson Ek was recalled from the American League to take the place of Koivu. Coach Bruce Boudreau limited his compliments to Eriksson Ek and his comrades Luke Kunin and Kyle Rau.
As for the right wing Mikael Granlund, who has only two goals in his last 37 games?
"I can not go and hang him in the back to follow him like a talker and say," Hey, shoot the puck! "He's smart enough," said Boudreau.
The Wild, who holds on to seventh place and first place wild card in the Western Conference, has 57 points, making it the lowest total in 54 seasons since the 2005-06 season.
"Some guys are just a shell of players I've known for two and a half years," Boudreau said.
Eriksson Ek's goal in Minnesota was swept less than three minutes later. Jason Zucker checked Edmonton defender Kris Russell and sent him first in the left post, angering the Oilers and a penalty for interference against the Wild. Twenty seconds after the power play, Draisaitl brought the lead to two for his eighth goal in the last six games.
Kassian, who also had some help, scored on an empty net after the puck escaped him as a result of Granlund 's denial on the other end by Talbot.
With a snowstorm swirling outside all day and driving away some fans, the energy in the arena was already below normal. The Oilers then took the lead on the first shot of the match, when Nurse entered a McDavid pass and let the puck fly from the top of the left circle over goalkeeper Devan Dubnyk's glove.
"It's the quietest I've heard in the first period, ever," said Boudreau, "but we did not do anything to excite them either."
The Oilers started the day in 12th place, but are now just three points behind the Wild, who has not yet told new General Manager Paul Fenton, whether they are a candidate or not this season.
"Everyone wants to be here in this room and win, but if we continue to deploy such efforts, it is easy enough for the GM to make a phone call," said right wing Marcus Foligno.
Hitchcock was hit by a puck badly attached to the ear at one point in the game and needed stitches. "My reflexes are a little slower I would say. This will teach me to look for the next alignment change, "he said. … The Oilers have formed fourth-line center Kyle Brodziak, who has a minus 12 rating, a healthy scratch for the second time this season and the first since October 11th. Rookie Colby Cave has replaced him in training. … The Oilers have scored 14 goals in three games this season against the Wild, winning two wins. … Eriksson Ek has scored three goals in 36 games this season.
Oilers: Go home to face San Jose on Saturday night, before embarking on a three – game road trip with the Eastern Conference teams.
Wild: Play New Jersey Saturday afternoon and Sunday afternoon in New York against the Islanders.