In recent years the Edmonton Oilers have had very little to play for in April, except of course, to ruin the playoff chances of the teams they’re facing. As the old saying goes, misery loves company, and non-playoff teams love nothing more than to stymie the postseason hopes of whoever they play at the end of the season.
The Minnesota Wild made some major moves in the offseason bringing in Zach Parise and Ryan Suter. They dished out a lot of money in hopes of turning this franchise around. Minnesota has some of the best fans in the league, and they deserve a winner. For a large part of the season, it seemed as though the Wild would indeed qualify for the playoffs. They even flirted briefly with the division lead. But lately, a mini meltdown has been in the works, and their hopes for the postseason has started to slip out of their hands. Surely a home date against the lowly Oilers would help.
Well it pretty much went the opposite of what they hoped. Just 27 seconds into the game, Corey Potter scored his first goal of the night, and second of the season to give Edmonton a 1-0 lead. Taylor Hall and Potter again scored in the first period to give their team a 3-0 lead. The Oilers would score three more in the second period, one from Jordan Eberle and two from Nail Yakupov to get out to a commanding 6-0 lead. Minnesota captain Mikko Koivu got his team on the board in the third frame but it was far too late.
Nikolai Khabibulin was the star of the show tonight, stopping 38 shots for the victory. The Oilers only mustered 17 shots in the game, and were fortunate that Minnesota’s goaltending laid an egg. The Oilers capitalized on their chances, something they’ve had trouble doing this season. In fact, every goal they scored was five on five, a pretty remarkable feat. Looking at the score board, it would seem that the Oilers controlled this game. But they were outhit, lost the majority of the face-offs and blocked 19 shots, which means that the Wild fired 59 their way.
Why nit-pick a 6-1 win, you ask? Because the team should be careful not to rely on their scoring ability to get them through, because it’s let them down time and time again. And this wasn’t the first amazing goaltending performance, but hoping your goalie is going to bail you out is not a long term plan for this team. But, it was a much-needed win after a dreadful stretch of games, and with one game left tomorrow night at home to Vancouver, you would hope to see them go out a high note. And the team does deserve credit for getting up for a meaningless game after a discouraging year.
If the Wild end up missing the playoffs, this loss will have played a part. Edmonton shouldn’t be taken lightly, no matter how bad they’ve been and that’s a positive. Now hopefully the Oilers can show the same gumption when their own games actually mean something.