SUN Hockey Pool

With no pressure, Oilers whip Wild

Minnesota Wild's Shane Hnidy and Edmonton Oilers' Ryan Jones tangle in Edmonton.   (REUTERS/Dan...

Minnesota Wild's Shane Hnidy and Edmonton Oilers' Ryan Jones tangle in Edmonton. (REUTERS/Dan Riedlhuber)

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:25 AM ET

It’s like being able to see Bigfoot and Elvis piloting a UFO every night.

Edmonton Oilers wins can seem like once-in-a-lifetime opportunities, but for some strange reason Rexall Place his been teeming with them lately.

Dustin Penner and Ethan Moreau scored twice each Monday to give the last-place Oilers a 4-1 decision over Minnesota for their eighth win in their last 11 home starts, pretty good for a hockey team that only has eight road wins to show for the entire season.

You have to go to Springfield - where the Simpson’s live, not the Falcons - to find a bigger Homer than the Oilers, but if you’re going to be absolutely miserable someplace, it might as well be as far away from Edmonton as possible.

Penner opened the scoring with his milestone 30th goal of the season, taking a nice pass from Taylor Chorney and beating Nik Backstrom with a wrist shot at 1:33.

Edmonton made it 2-0 at 10:12 when the penalty killing unit, fresh off holding Phoenix to 0-for-9 on Saturday, scored shorthanded (Ethan Moreau’s eighth goal of the season).

Minnesota closed the gap to 2-1 just 11 seconds into the middle period and the scored held up until the third, where Moreau sealed it his second of the night with five minutes to go.

INJURY BUGGED ... With nearly 500 man-games lost to injury this season, the third time in the last four years they’ve been gutted by injuries, the Oilers are determined to figure out why.

“It is a rough game, but we’re well beyond any standard from the standpoint of what has happened to us,” said head coach Pat Quinn. “It wasn’t just injuries, it was illness as well, that hit us harder than other teams, maybe because we didn’t get the vaccine, I don’t know.

“This will be part of a study, for sure, to try and establish if there are things that can be done to put us in better sted. But how do you handle getting pushed into the boards face first? You can’t stop those things.

“Was is conditioning, was it bad positioning or just plain bad luck. I think we have to have a real serious look at how we got ourselves into this situation.”

The Oilers don’t employ an enforcer, which some people believe leads to opponents playing them harder.

“I don’t necessarily buy that,” said Quinn. “But there’s that theory out there as well.”

EBERLE IN A GOOD PLACE ... While they might not call Jordan Eberle up from Springfield this season, GM Steve Tambellini says he is still gaining invaluable experience right now.

“The step is an important one for him and I don’t want people to underestimate the value of playing in the American Hockey Legaue,” said Tambellini. “Look at players like Jeff Carter and Mike Richards, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, they all spent time there and had success. If he doesn’t (get called up) there’s still great value in that. I believe in those steps.”

LATE HITS ... Sam Gagner, bothered by a sore knee, seems a longshot to come back this year. “He’s not even skating, so I don’t anticipate it,” said Quinn. “They call it day by day, but I don’t expect him in.”... Nikolai Khabibulin, recovering from back surgery, is skating. He even took a few shots before practice ... The Oilers also signed draft pick Chris Vande Velde, their 5th choice, 97th overall, in 2005. He’s a 6-2 centre ... Charles Linglet, called up from Springfield for a look, was in the press box for this one.

ROBERT.TYCHKOWSKI@SUNMEDIA.CA


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