SUN Hockey Pool

Same old replay in Minnesota

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:22 AM ET

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Having lost their previous eight games here, the Edmonton Oilers went into yesterday's matinee against Minnesota well versed in what's needed to beat the defence-first, take-few-chances, bore-you-to-death Wild at home.

Executing that game plan, however, is another matter.

The Oilers came as close as they've come in two years to pulling out a win before falling 3-2 in a shootout.

"We battled hard and we're disappointed we didn't get the win; it would have been a great feeling leaving here with a win," said Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish.

"We had a pretty good opportunity with the power play in overtime.

"It's a big point; at least we didn't get beat in here. The thing that we'll dwell on is the missed opportunity at the end after we tied it."

The Oilers scored the all-important first goal of the game, and were then able to add another one in the third period to send it to extra time.

Sheldon Souray got it started with a point blast on a two-man advantage. The goal came shortly after MacTavish called a timeout in order to get the proper personnel on the ice.

"We were in mid-change and the ref thwarted us," said MacTavish. "So I had to call a timeout to get the right players out on the ice. We kind of knew what we wanted to do, but with Horc (Shawn Horcoff) out, Bobby (Robert Nilsson) goes into that spot and for whatever reason we were in the middle of a change and he (the ref) wouldn't let me make the last movement.

"So we had to call a timeout to get the right guys on."

Souray's goal held up until the last two minutes of the opening period when Eric Belanger knotted the score on a harmless-looking two-on-two rush.

The Wild forward came into the zone and fired a perfect shot into the bottom corner past Dwayne Roloson.

After a scoreless second, Wild forward Antti Miettinen gave his team the lead, scoring short-handed less than five minutes in to the third period.

Miettinen took a cross-ice pass from Mikko Koivu and blasted a shot past Roloson.

In the past that would have pretty much sealed the Oilers fate here, but this time they were able to square the affair with just over six minutes left.

Sam Gagner was able to clean up after Ladislav Smid and fire the puck into an open net.

"I turned it over at the line and Bobby (Nilsson) did a great job of keeping the play alive and giving the puck to Ladi," Gagner said.

"We talked a lot about just driving the puck to the net and Ladi did a great job and the puck came right back out to me.

"Kudos to those guys -- that was a big play for us."

Both teams had a number of good chances to pull out the winner, with the best coming for the Wild when Stephane Veilleux fired a shot off the post. Then Pierre-Marc Bouchard took a holding penalty to give the Oilers a power play heading into overtime.

The Oilers, however, could not convert and, in fact needed Roloson to make a breakaway stop on Belanger to send the game to a shootout.

Gagner, Nilsson, Ales Hemsky and Tom Gilbert all missed in the shootout, while Koivu scored to give the Wild the victory.

"I think our battle level was there, the guys played with a lot of intensity. We had something to prove after the (Saturday's) loss," said Gagner.

"It's a tough one to lose. But when you get into a shootout, it's tough to predict what's going to happen. He (Backstrom) made a few good saves and they were able to pull out the win."


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