Friday, February 28, 2014
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Wild continue dominance of Oilers

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[February 28, 2014]  EDMONTON, Alberta -- The Minnesota Wild secured their hold on a playoff spot while the Edmonton Oilers secured their hold on a place in the draft lottery.

The Oilers struggled terribly against a disciplined Minnesota team that has been frustrating them for years, getting shut out 3-0 at home as the Wild improved to 8-1 in their last nine visits to Edmonton.

"I don't think that we played this game at the level that we headed into the break at and I think that's normal," said Wild coach Mike Yeo, whose club was 6-2-2 heading into the break. "But I was impressed with the detail and the structure in a lot of areas, but I think our puck-work can get a little better in some areas too."

Wild goaltender Darcy Kuemper picked up the shutout, stopping 21 shots.

"He made a couple of real big saves," said Yeo. "I look at one in the second period, that back-door play and the next thing, we go down and score shortly after that. Whenever your goalie wins a game, they're doing something great. There were more moments than just that, but I thought he played a real strong game."

The Wild moved into sixth in the Western Conference with the win while the Oilers remain 29th. The Oilers were hoping to start the stretch drive with a bang, but wound up shooting themselves in the foot.
 


"Minnesota is a good team, you have to give them a lot of credit, they play their system to a T," said Oilers winger Matt Hendricks. "But we got away from our game plan, which was try to get puck to the net, make their defensemen turn to look for rebounds. Instead, we just tried to go through them.

"We went into the break feeling pretty good about ourselves, playing good hockey, and tonight was a set-back."

After stopping 59 shots for a shutout in his last start at Rexall Place, Oilers goalie Ben Scrivens had no chance on the first shot Thursday. A little defensive confusion in the Edmonton end gave Minnesota center Mikael Granlund a wide open look at a wide open net to make it 1-0 at 2:04.

Turns out the Olympic jet lag didn't bother Granlund at all.

"Obviously you can feel it a little bit, but I felt all right," he said. "Sure it's a lot of flying and all the time changes it takes a few days, but I felt all right."

Turns out that one goal would be all the offence Minnesota needed.

[to top of second column]

"It was a sloppy start and we just never got anything going from there," said Oilers defenseman Justin Schultz. "Things didn't go our way early so we started trying to be individuals out there. We tried to be too fancy and it cost us.

"It wasn't our best effort. We wanted to get a good start at home, we have a lot of games here. We didn't really give our fans much tonight."

The Wild extended their lead to 2-0 when left winger Stephane Veilleux scored on a one-timer from the high slot at 9:37 of the second period. The Oilers, who didn't get their 10th shot of the game until 30 minutes in, were down 3-0 when left winger Dany Heatley made it 3-0 midway through the third period to salt away the contest.

"We were ready to go here, we practiced a ton of things that we wanted to execute and we didn't do it," said Edmonton winger Luke Gazdic. "It's a bit of a disheartening way to start this homestand."

After eight days of practice, much of it spent on the power play, the Oilers managed just three shots on their first four power plays of the game.

It was the eighth time this season the Oilers have been shut out.

"I think that's our biggest strength, to have a good defensive game," said Granlund. "I thought we played good defensively and Kemps had a good game in net. We didn't give them too much."

NOTES: The Oilers play 15 of their final 22 games at home. ... The Wild have more wins against the Oilers than any other club in the NHL (43). ... Thursday was G Darcy Kuemper's 13th straight start for Minnesota. ... The Oilers remain 29th in the standings, but GM Craig MacTavish gave head coach Dallas Eakins a strong vote of confidence during a state of the team address Wednesday. ... The Wild are still without injured C Mikko Koivu, who is recovering from ankle surgery. ... This is expected to be the last homestand for long-serving Oilers RW Ales Hemsky, who will almost certainly be moved at the NHL deadline. ... Wild D Clayton Stoner left the game in the second period after dislocating his finger in a fight with LW Luke Gazdic. He returned in the third.

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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