Nugent-Hopkins scores two in Oilers’ win over Wild
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins helped the Edmonton Oilers end a dubious
streak in Minnesota.
Nugent-Hopkins scored twice and Ryan Smyth had a goal and an
assist as the Oilers beat the Minnesota Wild 5-2 Friday.
Taylor Hall and Shawn Horcoff also scored for Edmonton, which
won for the first time in 18 games in Minnesota dating to Jan. 6,
”Coming into tonight it was just a different feeling,” said
defenseman Tom Gilbert, who grew up in a Twin Cities suburb. ”We
were energetic about tonight and we dictated it from the
The Oilers have won three of four overall, scoring a combined 20
goals in the trio of victories. They scored one goal in the
”The last couple of days we’ve got a lot of questions about how
we’re kind of an inconsistent team. Tonight, we played three pretty
consistent periods,” Hall said. ”We knew we were bound to break
out offensively at some time. It’s great that it’s happening now.
We just have to maintain that every game.”
The line of Nugent-Hopkins, Smyth and Jordan Eberle had three
goals and three assists, while the Hall-Horcoff-Ales Hemsky trio
had two goals and three assists.
”We know we have the horses to really come back from any
situation,” Horcoff said. ”We got a confidence. … It’s nice to
know that when you come out and stick to the game plan we’re given
we have a chance to win every night.”
Devin Setoguchi and Pierre-Marc Bouchard scored for the Wild,
who lost for the first time in six games. Minnesota entered the
game with a league-best 29 points.
Nikolai Khabibulin stopped 30 shots to win for just the second
time in six starts. His best save was sliding across the crease to
make a right pad stop on Matt Cullen late in the second period.
”He was really dialed in, good and squared,” said coach Tom
Hall gave Edmonton a 3-2 lead at 15:39 of the second period,
poking home a rebound of a shot by Gilbert that Josh Harding didn’t
see lying near the right post. Hall has seven points in his last
Horcoff gave the Oilers a little breathing room scoring on a
one-timer from low in the right circle midway through the third
period for a 4-2 cushion. Minnesota has won four games when
trailing in the final period, and seven of its 13 wins have come
when trailing or tied after two periods. This time there was no
”Certainly we have been playing with fire, spotting teams the
lead lately,” said Wild coach Mike Yeo. ”There have been a lot of
nice stories about us coming back and keeping with our game, but
that’s something we have to definitely be better at.”
Nugent-Hopkins added an empty-net goal for his 10th point in his
past four games.
”We’re really proud of this win,” Hall said. ”We did all the
little things from start to finish and we closed out a game, which
is huge. For us we’re feeling very confident right now.”
Smyth put Edmonton on the board at 5:15 of the opening period.
Jordan Eberle spun around in the left circle to deke Andrew Falk,
and sent a pass to Smyth who was being checked by Nate Prosser in
the crease, but was able to poke the puck past Harding.
”We had a bit more trouble coming out of the D zone, and
they’re the real deal. Their young guys are skilled and they got on
our mistakes and put the puck in the net,” Falk said.
Nugent-Hopkins scored on a power play with 3:31 to play in the
period, pushing the puck across the line during a goalmouth
scramble, before Setoguchi countered during a two-man advantage in
the period’s final seconds, lifting a rebound past a downed
Khabibulin to make it 2-1.
Bouchard stole the puck from Nugent-Hopkins at center ice and
went in alone, beating Khabibulin 5-hole, to tie the game midway
through the second period.
NOTES: It was Minnesota’s first regulation loss in seven games
against a division foe. The Wild are 13-4-2 against the Western
Conference. … Ray Whitney, Edmonton’s best defenseman, returned
to action after missing 11 games with a sprained knee. …
Minnesota has played at home the day after Thanksgiving every
season of its existence, going 7-3-1. … Edmonton LW Darcy
Hordichuk played his 500th career game. … The game was just the
second sellout of the year for Minnesota, and the first since