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Oilers snap seven-game skid against Wild with 5-2 victory

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Minnesota Wild's Joel Eriksson Ek (14) is checked by Edmonton Oilers' Connor McDavid (97) during first period NHL action in Edmonton on Friday, December 9, 2022.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

EDMONTON — The Edmonton Oilers finally found some success against the Minnesota Wild on Friday night.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had a goal and two assists as the Oilers snapped a seven-game losing skid against Minnesota, defeating the Wild 5-2.

“Each night is a new game, but at the same time they’ve kind of had our number in recent games. We wanted to put our best foot forward,” Nugent-Hopkins said. “We needed a good start, they’re a good starting team. We did that and got better as the game went on”

“Overall, it was one of our best 60-minute performances.”

Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl each recorded a goal and an assist. Derek Ryan and Kailer Yamamoto also scored for the Oilers (16-12-0), who have won six of their last eight.

Stuart Skinner made a stellar 42 saves.

“When you’re getting contributions throughout the lineup it’s awesome,” said Oilers forward Zach Hyman, who had one assist. 

“It provided momentum for the team. You can get off to a quicker start. It gives confidence to everybody in the lineup. A lot of guys are playing more now than they did at the beginning of the year and they’re contributing.”

Joel Eriksson Ek and Mats Zuccarello replied for the Wild (13-11-2), who have lost two in a row.

“We got enough pucks to the net but not enough quality,” said Wild head coach Dean Evason. “I honestly don’t remember their goalie making too many outstanding saves, we were hitting him with a lot of pucks. Our willingness to get pucks there, it just wasn’t quality when we needed to score.”

Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 33-of-37 shots for Minnesota.

“We need points,” Fleury said. “It is going to be a tight race right up to the end of the season. There is not a lot of difference between the teams, everybody is good and can win games. We can’t lose games in a row.”

Edmonton got a rare opening goal 2:45 into the first period as Devin Shore made a pass from behind the net to Ryan, who battled to send his own rebound in for his second goal in as many games.

Just over six minutes later, McDavid extended his goal streak to seven games. Nugent-Hopkins sent the puck across to McDavid and he blasted home his 25th of the season.

McDavid currently leads the league in goals, assists (29) and points (54).

Minnesota briefly looked to have tied the game just over a minute later when a puck hit the post and landed behind Skinner. He fell back and held it between his arm and pad, but the officials ruled that it crossed the line after a video review.

However, a second review determined that the Wild had committed interference during their attempts to poke Skinner and the puck into the net and it was called back.

Minnesota eventually got on the board at 11:24 of the opening frame.

Oilers defenceman Darnell Nurse sent a puck behind his own net that was intercepted by Eriksson Ek, who was able to come out in front unhindered, make a move on Skinner and score his 10th of the campaign.

It was the fourth straight game against Edmonton that Eriksson Ek recorded a goal.

The Wild levelled the score 6:22 into the second period as Zuccarello picked the top corner just as a two-man advantage expired for his ninth of the year. Kirill Kaprizov picked up an assist on the goal, extending his point streak to 14 games.

Edmonton regained the lead with seven minutes to play in the middle frame as Yamamoto tipped a Nurse shot past Fleury for his first of the season.

The Oilers made it 4-2 on the power play 3:43 into the third as Nugent-Hopkins got it across to Draisaitl who had a wide-open net to deposit his 19th goal of the season. It was also Draisaitl’s 12th power-play marker of the campaign.

Nugent-Hopkins scored his 14th into an empty net with nine seconds remaining.

NOTES

McDavid became the first Oiler to score in seven straight games since Jimmy Carson in 1988 … Kaprizov failed to score in the contest, ending his franchise-record goal streak at seven games. His point streak is the third longest in the NHL this season … Edmonton has had very little success against the Wild over the years, coming into the game with wins in just 24 of the 83 meetings between them … Minnesota defenceman Jonas Brodin returned after missing four games with a lower-body injury. Remaining out for the Wild were Ryan Hartman (upper body) and Brandon Duhaime (upper body) … The Wild recalled forward Sammy Walker and reassigned forward Joseph Cramarossa to the Iowa Wild of the American Hockey League on Friday … Out with injuries for the Oilers were Evander Kane (wrist), Warren Foegele (undisclosed) and Ryan McLeod (undisclosed) … Edmonton forward Tyler Benson cleared waivers and was assigned to Bakerfield of the AHL on Friday.

UP NEXT

The Oilers play the Wild again in Minnesota on Monday, the start of a brief two-game trip. 

The Wild have one game in advance of that, returning to the ice on Saturday night in Vancouver against the Canucks to cap off a four-game road trip.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 9, 2022.

Shane Jones, The Canadian Press