Oilers fall to Wild

SCOTT ZERR -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 11:44 AM ET

Shawn Horcoff was so zapped of energy by a stomach flu that he was sent home from the morning skate and then barely made it through the game.

Apparently his symptoms were so contagious, they affected the entire lineup of the Edmonton Oilers. The Oilers showed barely any sort of jump, which played right into the hands of the defensive-minded Minnesota Wild.

"We just didn't deserve the game," said Horcoff after the Oilers dropped a 4-1 decision to the Wild in the first of back-to-back meetings at Rexall Place between the teams.

"We didn't come out with the intensity we normally do - that we know we need to win games - and it showed."

There were plenty of thrills along the way as the Oilers built up a five-game winning streak. But they couldn't manage to come up with another late-scoring barrage to help carry them to a sixth straight win for the first time since March of the 2001-02 season.

FIRST LOSS IN REGULATION

The loss was the Oilers' first in regulation time since a 3-2 setback against Colorado on Nov. 29. "They executed their game plan and we didn't. That was clear to see," said Jarret Stoll.

"We knew what we had to do to get it in deep and beat the trap and we didn't do it. We weren't sharp moving the puck at all.

"We were just off in all areas of our game. Our skill was not there at all and at some points not even our work ethic was there. I don't think we made five or 10 plays all night."

The Wild, in particular goalie Manny Fernandez, who made 27 saves, were better across the board. And the Oilers didn't help their cause by committing 33 giveaways.

"It was as poor a game as we'd played in a while and it's important we bounce back," said Oil head coach Craig MacTavish.

"The area that I was most disappointed with was our ability to move the puck. The passing right from the back end all the way out was not where it has to be to have success at this level."

Of all the giveaways, none was bigger than the puck Raffi Torres coughed up an Oiler power play in the third.

The Wild raced back the other way with Todd White delivering a perfect feed to Brian Rolston for a short-handed goal that the Oilers never recovered from. White then finished off the scoring with an empty-netter in the final minute.

"As soon as we started to make good passes and hit the forwards, we started to move and we did that in the second and third," said Wild head coach Jacques Lemaire.

Fernando Pisani's goal, which came during a two-man advantage in the first period, was the last high note on the night for the Oilers, who wound up 1-for-7 against the Wild's No. 1-ranked penalty-killing unit.

The Wild took over in the second and were able to capitalize on their own power play when Michael Peca failed to clear the puck out of the Edmonton zone.

NEATLY TIPPED

That allowed Mikko Koivu to send a shot at the net that Pascal Dupuis neatly tipped behind Ty Conklin. Although he's managed only four goals on the year, Dupuis has notched three of those against the Oilers.

Wes Walz put the Wild ahead to stay when grabbed the puck off his own blocked shot and dropped a pass for Marian Gaborik who snapped in his 10th goal with only 45 seconds left in the second period.

Minnesota now trails the Oilers by just 10 points in the standings.

"There were spurts when we played how we needed to play but we couldn't sustain it for any period of time and anytime that happens you're going to lose games," said Horcoff. "There's not an easy game in the league this year."

Late Hits: Ales Hemsky and Marc-Andre Bergeron All Had Their Scoring Streaks End at Five Games.


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