Wild rock Oilers

ROBIN BROWNLEE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 1:25 PM ET

Plan A went out the window in a hurry.

The Edmonton Oilers talked about the importance of a fast start before the Minnesota Wild straggled into Rexall Place last night supposedly softened up after a loss to the Colorado Avalanche 24 hours earlier at the Xcel Energy Center.

They promptly provided the weary Wild a jolt of energy and a 3-0 lead in the opening 20 minutes, then spent the rest of the night playing catch-up against Minnesota's stifling defensive style.

That's not a winning proposition at the best of times, and it certainly wasn't in this one as the Oilers couldn't overcome their early largesse and lethargy in a mistake-filled and uninspired 6-3 loss.

SO MUCH FOR PLAN B

So much for Plan B.

"We played right into their strengths,'' said a frustrated Shawn Horcoff. "If we don't learn from our mistakes tonight ...

"We know how we have to play against them. We know they play a frustrating style and key on turnovers. Until we learn that, we're going to struggle every time.''

Two goals 16 seconds apart by Pierre-Marc Bouchard late in the first period, another by Andrei Zyuzin in the final minute of the second period and a goal by Pascal Dupuis to make it 4-2 got it done for the Wild as two lapses late in periods did the Oilers in.

"When you're banged up and have injuries, as a lot of teams do, you have to rely on your smarts,'' coach Craig MacTavish said.

"You have to minimize the mistakes you make in the course of a game if you're going to survive them. We made mistake after mistake with the puck.''

Minnesota was up 1-0 on a goal by Marc Chouinard - a play that was reviewed - when Bouchard went to work.

SIFTED A SLAPPER

Bouchard sifted a slapper through traffic and past Mike Morrison on a power play at 18:51, then made it 3-0 at 19:07, snapping a bouncing puck past the Oilers stopper on a bit of a softy.

"They capitalized and sent us reeling and we left our game plan a little bit,'' said Steve Staios. "When we got back to it, we scored goals and got back in the game.

"This team preys on those type of mistakes and turnovers and that's where we got into trouble.''

Georges Laraque presented a jolt of his own when he slugged it out with huge Derek Boogaard at the end of the first period with the crowd roaring, but the boost didn't last long.

Raffi Torres and Radek Dvorak narrowed the lead to 3-2 in the first seven minutes of the second, but Dupuis put the Wild two goals up as he one-timed a Wes Walz pass on a 3-on-2 break at 11:42 that started with a turnover at centre.

The back-breaker came when Zyuzin made it 5-2 with just 12 ticks left in the second, a goal that chased Morrison in favour of Ty Conklin when the third period began.

"We have to play a much more intelligent game than what we've played the last three games,'' MacTavish said. "We've been sloppy for three straight games. You can't hope to win at this level making those mistakes.

"We have to get to the break.

"It can't come fast enough for us the way we're thinking the game combined with the fact we've got some pretty critical people out of our line-up. Collectively, we were terrible.''

REASONER HOSPITALIZED: Marty Reasoner was hit in the chest by a shot in the third period and was taken to hospital as a precautionary measure after coughing up blood.

AROUND THE RINK: Conklin's appearance was his first since he allowed four goals on 16 shots in a 5-3 loss to Ottawa Jan. 14 ... Michael Peca sat out his second straight game and remains listed as out day-to-day, but his injury has now been diagnosed as a strained left groin rather than a strained hip-flexor ... Edmonton's power play is 1-for-23 against Minnesota this season after going 0-for-9.


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