SUN Hockey Pool

Tough to swallow

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:20 AM ET

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- It was a point lost, not gained for the Edmonton Oilers.

Under different circumstances the Oilers probably would have been happy earning a point in Minnesota against the Wild considering they hadn't won in the Xcel Energy Center in close to a year.

But holding a three-goal lead before the wheels fell off in a 5-4 overtime loss, it was a bitter pill to swallow.

"We did a lot of good things for a couple of periods, we had the jump that we expected," said Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish. "But it was a pretty big setback on the play by (Pavol) Demitra on Joni (Pitkanen). It was a dangerous, dangerous play, that's how guys break their backs. And to only get a two-minute power play out of that. It was a strangely officiated game."

Demitra sent Pitkanen into the corner boards head-first with a cross-check from behind in the second period.

The Oilers defenceman left the game with a back injury and did not return.

Demitra was assessed a two-minute penalty on the play as the Oilers held a two-goal lead.

But without one of their best defenceman, they could not hold off the Wild, who got goals from Marian Gaborik and Brent Burns in the third period to tie it and the winner from Petteri Nummelin on the power play in overtime.

"They played well in the third, they created a lot of opportunities and we were a little frantic in our own end," said Oilers captain Ethan Moreau, who was making his season debut. "We didn't respond well defensively. Anytime you're up three goals, it's not a great feeling. We did a lot of good things tonight, but obviously the weakness in our game tonight was in our d-zone coverage."

Moreau had missed 113 regular-season games for the Oilers dating back to last season when a shoulder injury ended his year seven games in.

This season a foot injury set the Oilers newly-appointed captain back, costing him 38 games.

It took 33 seconds for the Oilers to take a slashing penalty last night against the Wild, but surprisingly it wasn't assessed to Moreau, affectingly known to his teammates as 'Chopper'.

Moreau, however, did get his name on the scoresheet for the Oilers, picking up an assist on Andrew Cogliano's goal in the first period.

The Oilers scored the all-important opening goal as Pitkanen took a pass from Marty Reasoner on a short-handed two-on-one and lifted a shot over Wild goaltender Niklas Backstrom.

Andrew Cogliano increased the lead later in the period, taking a pass from Moreau and side-footing it over Backstrom.

After a review it was concluded there was no discernable kicking motion, but it was a finish that would have made any soccer striker proud.

Before the end of the period, the Wild pulled one back when Kim Johnsson stepped into a shot from the point on the power-play and blew it past a partially screened Dwayne Roloson.

In the second, Fernando Pisani extended the Oilers lead, depositing a rebound past Backstrom from the side of the net on the power play.

Later in the period, Jarret Stoll scored his first goal in 20 games benefiting on a miscue by Backstrom while short-handed.

The Wild goaltender went to play a puck around the boards but missed it and was caught behind the net as Kyle Brodziak got to it and centred it to Stoll.

Before the end of the period, Brian Rolston pulled one back for the Wild.

Early in the third, Dustin Penner had a goal waved off as he re-directed a Stoll point-shot past Backstrom with a high stick. Brodziak should have put the Oilers up by three, but with Backstrom down and out, he couldn't lift the puck over the sprawling goaltender.

"I out-waited him to try and get the open net, but I just have to get it up to try and get it over him," Brodziak said. "I have to get it in the open net. That was an opportunity to bury them. We have to take advantage of it."


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