SUN Hockey Pool

Wild topple mild-mannered Oilers

Minnesota Wild's Anton Khudobin is knocked over by Edmonton Oilers' Sam Gagner.  (REUTERS/Dan...

Minnesota Wild's Anton Khudobin is knocked over by Edmonton Oilers' Sam Gagner. (REUTERS/Dan Riedlhuber)

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:34 AM ET

Former Oiler Mark Messier turned 50 on Tuesday.

Everyone currently associated with the team turned about 97.

The Oilers can age a person in dog years and six weeks of watching these guys chase their tails is enough to make anyone reach for the prune juice and Viagra.

The Oilers, back from a 1-4 road trip that followed a 1-4 home stand, dropped a 4-1 decision to the Minnesota Wild.

It is Edmonton’s 12th loss in the last 14 games.

For the 15th time in the last 20 games, they were held to two goals or less.

The home record fell to a 7-12-3.

The news didn’t get better off the ice as Ales Hemsky left the game early in the second period with a concussion and did not return. He joins Shawn Horcoff, Ryan Whitney, Jordan Eberle and Gilbert Brule in the infirmary.

With Devan Dubnyk taking ill at the morning skate, Edmonton didn’t have a backup on the bench, just a queasy sophomore resting in the dressing room, who could probably play if he really, really had to.

No problem, all they needed with a strong team effort and a big night from Nikolai Khabibulin.

They got neither, and about four minutes after the opening faceoff the whole team could have used a porcelain bowl.

Matt Cullen scored on Minesota’s second shot of the game, at 1:39, and went up 2-0 at 3:25, on Brent Burns’ long lazy shot from the point through traffic, the kind of goal the Oilers refuse to even try scoring.

And just like that, the team you never want to spot an early lead had the early lead.

Giving Minnesota a 2-0 head-start is like giving a python a rabbit - death is neither quick, nor pretty to watch. Just inevitable. The Wild, 18-2-4 when scoring first, had the Oilers right where they wanted them.

Edmonton’s vaunted power play provided nothing but comic relief.

It had an amazing six straight chances (Nos. 39, 40, 41, 42, 43 and 44 if you’re counting) during one stretch and came up snake eyes each and every time.

Power plays 39 and 40 came and went without incident in the first period.

No. 41 came 3:20 into the second period. The Oilers were outshot 1-0.

Nos. 42 and 43 came back-to-back midway trough the second, leading to one of the most pathetic displays you will EVER see with a two-man advantage, the Oilers took ONE! shot in the entire 1:40. Passsed it about 30 times, shot it once.

Incredible.

The 44th wasn’t much better and Edmonton trailed 2-0 after 40, against a team that’s 15-0-1 when leading after two periods.

What little hope for a comeback the Oilers had was erased midway through the third when Tom Gilbert lost focus while tracking down a puck at the end boards, whiffing, wiping out and eventually fishing the puck out of his own net.

The Wild added insult to injury when they scored FOUR SECONDS into a power play to make it 4-0.

The Oilers power play slump ended, fittingly, with a meaningless goal late in a loss - Magnus Paajarvi’s one-timer to make it 4-1.

All the Oilers can do now is soldier on.

“If you’re going to plough your way through any type of a tough stretch, our power play right now, our season for that matter, are you going to do it when you’re staring at your toes all day and not looking people in the eye, not putting a smile on your face,” said head coach Tom Renney. “You have to accept the challenge and responsibility that goes along with getting yourselves out of that. That’s just life. We’re just a microcosm of that here.”

LATE HITS... Ryan Whitney had ankle surgery late Monday afternoon. He’s out indefinitely with a strong possibility that he won’t be back this season.

robert.tychkowski@sunmedia.ca

Twitter.com/TYCHKOWSKI


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