Oilers Waltz over Wild

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:39 AM ET

The Minnesota Wild may want to think twice about starting goaltender Niklas Backstrom at Rexall Place in the future.

Considering how his last three starts here have panned out, it's a wonder he hasn't developed a phobia about playing in Edmonton.

Last night Backstrom, who used to own the Oilers, was pulled for the third consecutive time at Rexall as Edmonton rolled to a 5-3 win.

The victory kept the Oilers very much in the playoff picture as they climbed into ninth place in the NHL's Western Conference, three points back of the Vancouver Canucks and Colorado Avalanche.

Colorado blanked the Calgary Flames 2-0 at home last night to maintain a hold on the last playoff spot.

"We jumped on them early," said Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish. "We didn't make it as difficult as what we did the other night against Colorado, but we still made it more difficult than we needed to."

Unlike the last two times Backstrom was pulled, head coach Jacques Lemaire didn't wait until the end of the period to make the switch.

It took all of 5:02 to send the goaltender to the bench, although he returned to start the third period. Heading into the game, Backstrom's career record against the Oilers was 8-0 with three shutouts.

"I never thought we would be able to get five goals against Minnesota," said Oilers forward Robert Nilsson, who finished with a pair of assists.

"But we got scoring from the start and that opened things up for us, making it a little easier.

"We talked about getting the first goal and we got it right away, then all our other lines kept it going after that first one."

Curtis Glencross scored on the Oilers first shot of the night. Andrew Cogliano scored on the third, converting a feed from Nilsson.

Dustin Penner then beat Backstrom with the next shot, converting a nifty pass from Ales Hemsky.

"We're scoring goals right now, that's the most important thing," said Cogliano. "Perhaps we have to tighten things defensively; we let them in the game a bit. But the goals they were scoring were fluke goals and for the most part I thought we were solid all around."

Minnesota responded 39 seconds after Penner's goal when Nick Schultz's point shot bounced past Oilers goalie Dwayne Roloson after hitting Ladislav Smid.

As if Roloson doesn't have enough to worry about, it was the fourth time in the last three games a puck has gone in off one of his own defencemen.

"You have to try to forget about it and focus on what you have to do," Roloson. "It lets everybody down when those flukey ones go in. But you just have to stay focused and try to stop the next one."

In the second period Kyle Brodziak extended the Oilers lead when he intercepted Josh Harding's clearing attempt, then outwaited the Wild goalie as he cut across the crease.

Sean Hill cut into the lead again as his point shot eluded Roloson, but then Cogliano collected his second goal of the game, this time converting a great feed from Sam Gagner to give the Oilers a three-goal cushion heading into the final 20 minutes.

The Wild pulled one back less than eight minutes into the period when Todd Fedoruk tipped Martin Skoula's floater from the point past Roloson, who finished with 31 saves to record his fifth win in his last six starts.

The Oilers now head to Minnesota for the second game of the back-to-back series tomorrow, starting a three-game road trip.


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