Oilers beat Wild to end streak

The Oilers celebrate a third-period goal against the Wild Friday in St. Paul, Minn. (Reuters)

The Oilers celebrate a third-period goal against the Wild Friday in St. Paul, Minn. (Reuters)

Robert Tychkowski, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:44 PM ET

The only thing missing was Max Von Sydow shouting over Edmonton’s bed between splashes of holy water: “The power of Christ Compels you! The power of Christ compels you!”

It took 18 tries, and a lot of green-pea-soup-looking defeats, but the exorcism finally took.

The ghosts of Minnesota are dead.

The Oilers won — yes, won — in Minnesota.

“It’s definitely a new feeling,” said Edmonton defenceman Tom Gilbert, a Bloomington product who got to celebrate his first victory here in six years as an Oiler. “We had a feeling in here that we were going to go out there and do it. It feels awesome.”

With the Wild looking for their 18th straight victory over Edmonton, and the NHL’s second-longest home-ice mastery over an opponent since Philadelphia rolled over Pittsburgh 23 straight times in the early 80s, Edmonton finally rose up and said enough is enough.

“Over the last couple of days that was our mindset,” said Taylor Hall, who scored the winner and helped set up the insurance marker in the 5-2 triumph.

“We really wanted to win this one, we wanted this streak to end and it sure does feel good. I haven’t been around for all 17 of the losses, but you can tell that every time we came in here we wanted badly for this to end.

“For us to do it, and play as well as we did, feels very good.”

The Oilers jumped out to a 2-0 lead Friday and when Minnesota tied it up, and the demons were ready to take possession again, Edmonton calmly rang up three in a row to win here for the first time in 58 long months.

But for all the hoopla over finally leaving town with something to show for it other than wretched disappointment, head coach Tom Renney wants to file this one in the Just Another Game file.

“Just another win, that’s what we’re supposed to do,” he said. “I don’t carry the weight of the world like it seems the rest of the world does. We’re supposed to come out and do everything we can to win hockey games. We’ve been very, very close here. We’ve always had good games with Minnesota and I’m sure that will continue.”

This actually was a good game, the best Oilers-Wild tilt in a long while. It had flow and goals, and a little bad blood courtesy of Darcy Hordichuk, who goaded Brad Staubitz into four retaliation penalties in the first period.

Maybe a little too much excitement for some.

“We’ve been playing with fire, spotting teams the lead lately,” said Wild head coach Mike Yeo. “You can’t expect to score the first goal of every game but you have to tighten up there a little bit. As a team tonight we didn’t do enough things to deserve to win a hockey game.

“We did things that we shouldn’t be doing. The result is what you saw.”

Edmonton swarmed Minnesota for first 90 seconds after the opening faceoff and set the tone for the game. By late in the first they were up 2-0 on goals from The Ryans (Smyth and Nugent-Hopkins).

“Right from the start we were ready for this and we weren’t going to be denied,” said Shawn Horcoff, who had a goal and an assist to go with his hunch that the streak would end here and now. “It’s a different feeling this year. We know we have the horses. We have a confidence that when we play right, we’re a tough team to beat. We can play with any team in the league.”

Even Minnesota. After Minny tied it, the Oilers went up 3-2 on Hall’s goal late in the second, 4-2 on Horcoff’s goal midway through the third and 5-2 on an empty-netter from Nugent-Hopkins.

“We put together a great team game tonight,” said Gilbert. “The guys from the first line to the fourth line went out there and played hard. They did all the smart things, we limited our turnovers and when that happens we can skate with anybody.”

ROBERT.TYCHKOWSKI@Sunmedia.ca

TWITTER.com/SUN_TYCHKOWSKI


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