It took a turnover in the neutral zone that sprung Charlie Coyle in alone on Oilers' goaltender Viktor Fasth. What happened after that was a beauty of a game-winning goal. In a game that provided very little offense, the Wild was able to hold off the Oilers to start the unofficial second half of the season.
Devan Dubnyk stopped 23 of the 24 shots he faced. Not only were some of his saves spectacular with two-pad stacks and right-to-left lateral movement saves, they were ever-so important. The Wild held Edmonton to just five shots on goal in the first period and Dubnyk was equal to the task on all of them.
Minnesota put up 10 shots on goal in a first period where both teams seemed to be searching for their legs. The Wild were trying to establish an unrelenting forecheck, but the speed of Edmonton's forwards kept the Wild in check. The line of Matt Cooke - Kyle Brodziak - Justin Fontaine were the line that provided the best and most consistent pressure of the night. Fontaine had himself a nice night as he assisted on Nino Niederreiter's 15th goal of the season. Fontaine picked the pocket of an Oilers defenseman and gave the puck to Niederreiter for the game's first goal. For the majority of the first period, the Wild were without Zach Parise who lost a tooth after taking a puck in the mouth as the puck went went back up off the glass on a clearing attempt.
The Wild didn't get much going in the second period. Maybe it was the long change in the middle stanza, but turnovers were a-plenty. The Oilers were pushing back and saw the Wild become vulnerable. It wasn't until the 17:16 mark of the second period that Boyd Gordon was able to get a wrap-around try to bounce in off Brodziak's skate. Mikael Granlund had three shots on goal with two nice scoring chances by himself. However, he entered the line-up a little "ornery," as someone described him on Twitter. He was going hard to the net, trying to make plays, and getting physical. He was also 56 percent in the face-off dots. Compare that mark to Charlie Coyle's 30 percent and you see a glaring part of Coyle's game that needs improvement.
The third period saw the things open up as both teams elected to play some firewagon hockey. Dubnyk had be be solid in net even though the Oilers missed on countless opportunities by shooting wide or over the net. Then a turnover landed on Coyle's stick and he tore down the left side. Two Oilers were pressuring on the back check and Fasth came out to challenge him, but Coyle beat all three to the outside and tucked the puck in behind Fasth for the game-winning goal. Ryan Suter did take a late third period penalty and with the Oilers pulling Fasth, it gave the Oilers a 6-on-4 advantage for the final minute. Dubyk was strong, Mikko Koivu laid down in the high slot to block a shot, and the Wild held on for the 2-1 victory.
Both Niederreiter and Jason Pominville led the team with four shots on goal and Parise, Coyle, and Granlund finished with three shots.
Minnesota will head to Calgary Thursday evening for the second of the three game Western Canada road trip.