SUN Hockey Pool

Wild beat Oilers for eighth straight time

Wild forward Cal Clutterbuck is checked by Oilers Cam Barker and Eric Belanger at Rexall Place in...

Wild forward Cal Clutterbuck is checked by Oilers Cam Barker and Eric Belanger at Rexall Place in Edmonton, Alta., Oct. 20, 2011. (DAN RIEDLHUBER/Reuters)

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 3:48 AM ET

EDMONTON - Never mind Daryl Katz, Minnesota has owned the Oilers for so long Edmontonians should be building the Wild a free arena.

But when 16,839 fans at Rexall Place dozed off to sleep Thursday night, they fully expected to wake up and discover that the slump was finally over.

The Oilers went up 1-0 in the first period and since it was clearly going to be a week or two before the next goal, the lead seemed safe.

It was safe in a scoreless second.

And it was safe for all but 1.2 seconds of the third.

That’s when Dany Heatley — yes, THAT Dany Heatley — scored from behind the end line to send the Oilers into a state somewhere between shock and nausea.

“That’s unbelieveable,” said defenceman Ryan Whitney. “I actually stood up on the bench, turned around, said @%$*% yeah! and gave someone a high five. I thought we won.”

He wasn’t alone. But it went to a shootout where Jordan Eberle, Ryan-Nugent Hopkins and Eric Belanger all missed. Matt Cullen scored the only goal Minnesota would need to beat Edmonton for the eighth straight time.

Head coach Tom Renney lit into his players afterward.

“He has a right to be upset,” said Whitney. “He said we deserved a better fate, but we just had awful puck management.

“In the second period there were three shifts in a row where they had a three-on-two. The league is too good to let up.”

It was another in a string of dreadfully boring Oilers games. Like the 3-1 win over Nashville or the 2-1 loss to Calgary before it, this one made soccer look exciting.

“Usually it’s the other way around, they get the goal and they sit back, play one forward,” said Ryan Smyth. “We got our goal early and then sat back in the second, but in the third I thought we were doing the little things a little better.

“It was an unfortunate bounce. I was hoping the clock had run out.”

Edmonton scored first when Greg Zanon served up a horrible giveaway from behind his own net 16 minutes into the first period. He put it right on Ryan Smyth’s stick, who slid it to Ryan Jones who made it 1-0.

And that was it ... til Heatley broke their hearts.

To work as hard as they did for 59:58 and only get a point is heartbreaking. And how about the fans ... it’s one thing to watch that bad a game if you win, but to watch a stinker and then lose it like that. Ouch.

Especially after a 1-0 lead late in the third period in Calgary disintegrated into a 2-1 loss in regulation.

“We’re playing well, we’re doing a lot of good things, but we have to close, these are games we have to win,” said Belanger, who hit the crossbar on a shorthanded breakaway and the post in the shootout.

“We have to learn from this. The last two games are hard to digest — we should have come out with four points and we only have one. It’s frustrating.”

Coaches will obsess over the defensive mistakes, but not getting the second goal is just as big an error on Edmonton’s part. That’s three games in a row now that the other team has dictated the pace.

“We had 30 shots on net, we had a lot of pucks to the net, a lot of bodies to the net,” said Belanger. “We just have to find a way to score more goals to give ourselves a little breathing room.”

Let’s hope so, because there’s no future in trying to win 1-0.

“We like it to be 5-2, or 5-0, we have the scoring power in here to do that,” said Smyth. “But for whatever reason it’s not happening.”

robert.tychkowski@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/SUN_TYCHKOWSKI


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