Enjoyable visit for Wild

SCOTT ZERR -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:33 AM ET

The Minnesota Wild couldn't have asked for a better time in Edmonton.

Sure, they don't play the most exciting brand of hockey but it would have to be considered effective. The defence-first Wild have won five of their last six games and spoiled home-ice advantage not once but twice this week against the Edmonton Oilers. All of a sudden the Wild are in prime position to stalk the rest of the Northwest Division.

"I feel we're a good team and when we're on the same page we can play with anybody," said Brian Rolston after the Wild's 4-2 victory over the Oilers last night.

"We feel we've been playing well for a while but just not getting the breaks. Now we're getting our breaks and we're making our breaks."

The win moved Minnesota just eight points back of the division lead currently co-owned by the Oilers and Calgary Flames. Tonight, the Wild can close the gap even more when they take on the Flames and then it's off to Vancouver on Saturday to try and gain ground on the Canucks.

"Don't make me think about tomorrow. Let me enjoy this one," laughed Wild head coach Jacques Lemaire.

"It's going to be a dogfight right all the way to the end," added Rolston. "There's no other points out there and those are points that you have to get."

When the Wild took a 1-0 lead on a one-timer by Randy Robitaille, they were well on the way to locking down the ice with their trap. At 2-0, when Marian Gaborik cashed in on a crafty individual effort, the Wild had Oiler fans in an uproar.

Even with barely getting anything generated on offence, the Wild had the edge and the home team rattled for a second straight game.

"It was a tough task and we're very happy to get four points here," said Lemaire.

"To win against this type of team we have to be opportunistic. If we get a chance and don't bury it, it's tough for us to win games."

And just as he'd done two nights ago, Manny Fernandez outplayed his rival in net and preserved the victory.

"This is a confidence-builder for us," said Fernandez, who finished with 28 saves. "We've had some tough times on the road and this might be a good turnover for this team."

The Wild netminder made his best stop just after his club had built a 3-0 cushion when he robbed Ryan Smyth with a stretched-out glove at the edge of the crease.

"He's pretty much ready for every shot," said Lemaire of his goalie.

"He's facing every shot. You don't see him on his back and in off-angles very much. If you're not sharp in net and cover your angles against a team like that you're giving up goals from everywhere."


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