Oilers can't finish off Wild

Wild forward Brad Staubitz fights with Oilers forward Darcy Hordichuk at Rexall Place in Edmonton,...

Wild forward Brad Staubitz fights with Oilers forward Darcy Hordichuk at Rexall Place in Edmonton, Alta., Nov. 30, 2011. (DAN RIEDLHUBER/Reuters)

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:35 AM ET

EDMONTON - There’s a reason Michael Myers and Jason Vorhees and all those other horror-movie monsters get a few extra kills in every movie — they regain consciousness because the hapless victims don’t have sense enough to finish them off when they’re almost dead.

It’s the same reason the Minnesota Wild got two extra points last night.

The Edmonton Oilers had them down and out, stone cold and all but done at Rexall Place, and couldn’t find enough killer instinct to finish the job.

“When you have a 2-0 lead at home you have to find a way to close,” said Sam Gagner, after Edmonton didn’t, and wound up losing 3-2 in a shootout. “There was just a small window in that second period where our intensity dropped a little bit, our battle level dropped, and because of that they were able to come back. It’s tough to take.’

Another lesson learned the hard way. Up 2-0 through 25 minutes at home, the Oilers had the Wild right where they wanted them (Minnesota only had eight shots at the 30-minute mark) but instead of putting a final bullet behind their ear, they let up long enough for Minnesota to tie it, force overtime and then steal victory in the sixth round of penalty shots.

“It was a tough second period, we sat back a little bit and didn’t respond well to their first goal,” said Shawn Horcoff. “We have to play complete games. We’re not a team that can take periods off and find ways to win. There’s no room for that in our game right now and that’s what you’re seeing.”

Edmonton led 1-0 after 20 minutes on Ryan Nugent-Hopkins’ 11th of the year (courtesy of a fantastic pass from Andy Sutton) and made it 2-0 on a power play goal from Jordan Eberle.

That should have been the launching pad to victory, but in a brief lapse that lasted just over three minutes (Devin Setoguchi 11:31 and Kyle Brodziak 14:51) it was all tied up.

“I think we get up 2-0 and it’s almost, ‘Whoa,’ ” said Horcoff. “I think we could use a little more confidence and cockiness in those situations to close teams out instead of just trying to hold on to it.

“You have to play in the other team’s end. you can’t sit back. The league is too good, there are too many good players, and they’re going to capitalize eventually. Let’s take a lesson from this and move on.”

The Oilers have gone to overtime against Minnesota three times this season, all three ended up in shootout losses.

“They’re the kind of team that kind of waits for the other team to turn it over and we might have done that a little too much,” said Nugent-Hopkins. “We started turning the puck over too much and the tide started to turn a little bit.”

Killer instinct needs work?

“Even if they do get a couple of goals we have to stick with it,” said Nugent-Hopkins. “I thought we did a pretty good job of that, we just couldn’t get one in the third.”

Jordan Eberle, Sam Gagner and Shawn Horcoff scored for the Oilers in the shootout (Ales Hemsky, Ryan Nugent-Hopkin and Ryan Smyth missed).

Pierre-Marc Bouchard, Miiko Koivu, Dany Heatley and Kyle Brodziak scored for Minnesota (Matt Cullen and Devin Setoguchi missed).

DROP ‘EM: After much discussion since the last time they met, Darcy Hordichuk and Brad Staubitz dropped the gloves on their first shift and had a spirited fight just outside the Minnesota blueline. Call it a draw.

LATE HITS: Anton Lander has a cut on his hand that became infected. They want him to keep the hand out of a sweaty hockey glove until things improve … Ryan O’Marra, called up from Oklahoma, didn’t make it to Edmonton in time for the morning skate but drew in against the Wild.

robert.tychkowski@sunmedia.ca

@SUN_TYCHKOWSKI


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