Oilers 4, Wild 1

Jordan Eberle scored early and late to stop the Oilers’ losing

streak at four games.

It came at the cost of an even longer run of misery for the

Minnesota Wild.

Ryan Smyth and Lennart Petrell also scored for the Oilers, whose

4-1 win Thursday night sent the Wild to their sixth straight

loss.

”We just weren’t ready at the start and it cost us the game,”

Minnesota forward Kyle Brodziak said. ”I think we have to take a

look in the mirror and make sure we are better from here on out. It

hasn’t been good enough. It’s not fun right now.”

Dany Heatley scored for the Wild, whose skid has almost

completely negated a seven-game winning streak.

Eberle’s first goal came via a tremendous individual effort on

the power play nearly 16 minutes into the game. He stopped a

clearing attempt, made a toe-drag move to throw off a defender and

then sent a wrist shot past Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom.

Smyth made it 2-0 with a minute and a half left in the first,

attempting a wrap-around shot and taking a couple more whacks to

dislodge the puck from between Backstrom’s skate and the post and

into the net.

Smyth’s 14th goal of the season ended an 11-game scoring

drought.

The Oilers had a chance to go up by three goals with 12 seconds

left in the first when Taylor Hall was awarded a penalty shot after

being tripped up on a breakaway attempt by Stoner. Backstrom made a

pad save to turn Hall’s attempt away.

”Every win brings you some kind of relief,” he said. ”I

didn’t care what the score ended up being, I just wanted to be able

to say that we played well. We showed near the end that we can

still hit the panic button pretty well and the penalty parade

didn’t help us but our penalty killing was stellar, as was Nikolai

Khabibulin.”

Edmonton out-shot Minnesota 20-3 in the first.

The Oilers went up 3-0 early in the second period as Petrell

stripped the puck from Jeff Taffe and picked the top corner with a

slapshot for a short-handed goal. Less than two minutes later,

Eberle picked up a loose puck in the slot and beat Backstrom with a

backhander for his fourth goal in three games.

Eberle leads the Oilers with 36 points.

”It’s important to have that kind of confidence; those are

special plays by special players,” Renney said.

Eight minutes into the second the Oilers had four goals while

the Wild only had four shots.

Khabibulin kept the Wild off the board with a terrific glove

save in tight on Pierre-Marc Bouchard with five minutes to play in

the second.

Minnesota had a chance to get into the game early in the third

when Petrell was assessed a major for checking from behind because

he gave Marek Zidlicky a shove as he was heading into the

boards.

”I feel bad for Marek and the way he went into the boards,”

Petrell said. ”From my point of view he might have caught an edge

because I didn’t feel it was much contact.”

The Oilers killed off the lengthy penalty, but just seconds

later the Wild ruined Khabibulin’s shutout bid as Heatley rifled a

shot into the net for his 10th of the season.

Surprisingly, the final shots were an even 31-31.

NOTES: It was the fifth of six meetings between the Northwest

Division rivals, who will close out their season series on Dec. 29.

The Wild won three of the first four, all in shootout sessions. …

Oilers F Ales Hemsky missed the game with the flu. He was replaced

on the Oilers’ second line by Sam Gagner. Petrell drew in to take

Hemsky’s place in the lineup. … The Wild hoped to have captain

Mikko Koivu back in time for the game, but he instead missed his

fourth game with a leg injury. To fill in for him, the Wild

recalled Taffe. … Minnesota has had a string of injuries at F,

also missing Devin Setoguchi (ankle), Casey Wellman (wrist) and

Guillaume Latendresse (post-concussion symptoms). … With the

World Junior Hockey Championships in town following Christmas, the

Oilers will head on a seven-game road trip starting Monday. They’ll

face the Canucks, Wild, Islanders, Blackhawks, Sabres, Blues and

Stars.