The Edmonton Oilers finally beat the Minnesota Wild, scoring a 5-2 win Friday night at Rogers Place.
The Wild had won the previous seven meetings between the two teams.
“I thought tonight everybody was going, and we played a pretty solid 60 minutes overall,” Oilers forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins said after the game. “Obviously (Stuart Skinner) made some big saves and was solid in (the net) there for us, but I thought overall it was one of our best 60-minute performances.”
“We played a very good hockey game today — a very good first period,” Oilers head coach Jay Woodcroft said.
“We had good special teams and contributions up and down the lineup. It was great.”
The Oilers took the lead before the game was three minutes old when Derek Ryan jammed the puck under Wild goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury for his fourth of the season.
“That was a big one to start the game out, and we kind of rallied off that,” Nugent-Hopkins said.
On the power play, Oilers captain Connor McDavid took a pass from Nugent-Hopkins and zinged home his 25th.
“He does a lot of little, subtle things in the game that he has success with,” Woodcroft said of Nugent-Hopkins. “He’s doing five-on five and five-on-four.
“That line’s been really effective and he’s doing a lot of good stuff.”
Still in the first, Oilers defenceman Darnell Nurse turned the puck over to Wild forward Joel Eriksson Ek, who walked in front and lifted the puck past Skinner.
Minnesota forward Mats Zuccarello tied it on the power play six minutes into the second.
“We want to make this a hard place to play,” Oilers winger Zach Hyman said of Rogers Place. “All last year we did, and I think this homestand has been reminiscent of that.”
The Oilers regained the lead when Kailer Yamamoto deflected a point shot by Nurse. It was Yamamoto’s first goal of the season.
“Yamamoto coming back into our team has been a real important addition,” Woodcroft said after the game. “Everybody is getting a firsthand look at just how important he is to our team.
“I was happy to see he was rewarded with a goal tonight, because he’s been all around it.”
Leon Draisaitl buried a power-play goal early in the third to make it 4-2 Oilers. Nugent-Hopkins added a late empty-netter.
“I think we have another level,” Hyman said.
“Throughout an 82-game season, you want to steady the roller-coaster as much as possible, but there are ups and downs, and by the end of it, you hope to find out what kind of team you (are).”
Skinner earned the win with 42 saves.
The Oilers (16-12) will visit the Wild in Minnesota on Monday. You can listen to live coverage of the game on 630 CHED, beginning with The Faceoff Show at 4:30 p.m. The actual game starts at 6 p.m.
–With files from Brenden Escott, 630 CHED
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