Everything but the win for Oilers

Magnus Paajarvi bears down on Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom during second-period action at Rexall...

Magnus Paajarvi bears down on Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom during second-period action at Rexall Place Thursday. The Wild won 4-2.

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:55 AM ET

Everything about Guaranteed Win Night went according to script … except the win part.

The Edmonton Oilers drew 10 power plays, dominated the faceoff circle, rang up the shot clock like a pinball machine and had a month’s worth of chances against a team they almost NEVER lose to at home ... and couldn't convert it into anything but a third-straight defeat.

Whether they deserved it or not, and they probably didn't, the Minnesota Wild posted just their third victory in their last 11 visits to Rexall Place, scoring twice early and once late in Thursday’s 4-2 decision.

“I actually thought we played pretty good,” said captain Shawn Horcoff. “We took it to them in a lot of areas and fell short. We definitely out-chanced them. We just fell short at the end. It’s obviously frustrating because I thought we played pretty well.”

The rust that some people worried might accumulate after four days off and two games in 11 days seemed to bog the Oilers down early as they gave up two quick ones to hush the hockey-starved sellout crowd. Kyle Brodziak scored both, whacking in his own rebound at 2:49 and, after being left all alone in the slot, putting a wrist shot under the bar at 5:34.

Just like that, the Oilers were knee-deep in a hole.

“We had some bad shifts in the first period and they executed pretty well,” said Magnus Paajarvi. “That was tough, giving up three goals. We battled hard to come back, but it wasn’t enough.”

Ales Hemsky finished Kurtis Foster’s cross-ice pass at 14:42 to cut the lead in half, but the comeback hit a wall just over one minute later when Guillaume Latendresse scored on the power play to make it 3-1 at the first intermission.

“Those are two goals we want back, and obviously the power play goal off (Jim Vandermeer’s stick) was a little bit lucky, but you have to be able to respond from that and we did,” said Jordan Eberle. “The score didn’t go our way but we can take some things out of this.”

The Oilers were indeed much better in the second period, outshooting Minnesota 16-1 in the first 10 minutes, but they had nothing to show for it. Taylor Hall, Eberle, Sam Gagner, Ales Hemsky, and Paajarvi all had five-star looks but couldn’t find the trigger.

“I had some chances. Too bad I didn’t score,” sighed Paajarvi. “I don’t know why. If I could answer that question hockey would be easy.”

“There’s confidence there that we can produce offence,” said Horcoff. “More nights than not, if we have that many chances, we’ll score more than just two goals. If we get that kind of effort and that many shots on net (36), we’ll win more than we lose.”

Hall, in his best game, by far, as an Oiler, had about six golden opportunities from in close and missed each time (who knew that Kevin Lowe’s hands came with the number?).

“I think Taylor and Jordan are feeling better every game, myself, too,” said Paajarvi. “Hopefully we can play some more good hockey and hopefully execute a little more.”

Horcoff’s third goal in five games made it 3-2 in the third, but Minny sealed it with an empty netter.

LATE HITS: The Oilers were markedly better in the faceoff circle, winning 60% against the fourth-ranked team in the league … The line of Ryan Jones, Zack Stortini and Colin Fraser, on for the first two Wild goals, didn’t see the ice again for the rest of the game. Stortini and Jones finished the game minus 2 in 58 seconds of ice time … Dustin Penner shortened the bench even further when he took a 10-minute misconduct for arguing a high-sticking penalty in the third.

robert.tychkowski@sunmedia.ca


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