Oilers get handcuffed

Oilers goalie Dwayne Roloson deflects a shot during first period action against the Wild last...

Oilers goalie Dwayne Roloson deflects a shot during first period action against the Wild last night. (ASSOCIATE PRESS/Jim Mone)

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:59 AM ET

MINNESOTA -- The Minnesota Wild decided to play the part when they found out Dwayne Roloson had been sworn in as an honorary member of the St. Paul Police Department.

So they came out with their hands up.

They reached for the sky to celebrate Brent Burns' first period goal, and again when Pavol Demitra made it 2-0 in the second, and all 18,000 of their fans had their arms in the air when the home team closed out a 2-0 victory.

"I don't know what it is," sighed Roloson, whose club didn't get its 10th shot on net until the 35 minute mark.

"They play a tight defensive game and they're successful at it. We had some opportunities but weren't able to capitalize on them."

Again.

The Wild are 13-3 in their last 16 against the Oilers, who've scored a grand total of nine goals in their last nine meetings (and just one in their last five).

In an era when playoff spots are won and lost by as little as a point, being this ineffective against a club you play eight times a year can be dangerous to your post-season health.

"In order to win the division and to make the playoffs you have to be good in your division and it starts with these guys," said centre Shawn Horcoff.

"We've had trouble with them the last few years and we have to change that if we're going to be successful."

The Oilers were hoping their younger, faster team would be able to break Minnesota's trap, but they couldn't.

"I thought we played OK, we just didn't get a lot of luck around the net," said centre Shawn Horcoff.

"We got off to a bit of a slow start, but with these guys you have to stop trying to make the pretty plays and force pucks to the net and win those battles in front."

Minnesota won most of them last night.

"We had their number last year, but six years prior to that they had our number," grinned Wild coach Jacques Lemaire, whose club didn't win a game against Edmonton till its fourth year in the league.

"So we'll see this year."

With much of the attention on Wild policeman Derek Boogaard, he wasn't a factor. Then again, he didn't need to be. The Wild were fine without him.

The Oilers, meanwhile, drop to 2-2 after opening with back to back wins over San Jose and Philadelphia.

"We weren't able to get that goal against Backstrom," said head coach Craig MacTavish.

"It was the same old story, I guess. But I like the way we moved the puck, we did a lot of things positively. I thought we played a good road game."

By the end, all that was left to be determined was whether Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom would get his second shutout in three starts. Needless to say, it's fun being a goalie on a Jacques Lemaire team.

"I like the way we play,"he said. "We know how we have to play to win games. Everybody is proud of that and everybody likes the system. The shutouts are fine, but the biggest thing is we're 3-0. The guys played unbelievable."

LOOKING GOOD IN BLUE

Roloson was one of six civilians named honorary police officers on Tuesday. His association with the city's canine unit began during his days with the Wild and continued after he came to Edmonton.

He's always donating time and equipment to fundraising events for the department and lends as much public support as he's able to.

"I just try to help out as much as I can," he said. "They joke that I have more hours in the squad car than half the guys in the precinct.''

Last season he had a tribute to the department painted on the backplate of his mask. It now hangs in the canine unit kennel.

ICE CHIPS ...

The Wild named Pavol Demitra their captain for October. They've been rotating the 'C' for years ... Sam Gagner sat this one out to make room for JF Jacques. He has six games left in his nine-game NHL trial ... D Dick Tarnstrom was back in the lineup for Edmonton after missing Monday's game in Detroit with a charleyhorse. His return sent Denis Grebeshkov to the press box.


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