The Wild are on fire with a three game winning streak and a sweep through western Canada. Thursday night, the Wild scored five goals in the third consecutive game to beat the Edmonton Oilers 5-2 in the final game the Wild will ever play at Rexall Place. What was once a house of horrors for the Wild in its infancy years, the teenage Wild franchise now has a learner's permit and is driving for wins in Edmonton. Minnesota won on the backs of goals from Jason Pominville, Matt Dumba, Thomas Vanek, Mikael Granlund, and Charlie Coyle.
Coming into the game on the second night of a back-to-back, the Wild legs looked tired early on. The Oilers got the first three shots on goal and Darcy Kuemper was tested early on. Minnesota was able to gain some momentum when Thomas Vanek took a high stick from Lauri Korpikoski. With a chance to work the offensive zone, the Wild cashed in early when Jason Pominville gathered a Granlund shot that was blocked out front and shot to the far side on Cam Talbot. Pominville scored his eighth goal of the season and second goal in as many games. Could Pominville be snapping out of his funk? If so, could he be a boon to the Wild getting offense throughout its depth again?
Wunder-kindergartener Connor McDavid took just 28 seconds to tie the game, when Benoit Pouliot beat Nate Prosser to spring a 2-on-1. McDavid just happened to be on the other end of a really, super easy 10th goal of his young, promising career.
Zach Parise was then hooked by Justin Schultz to give Minnesota another power play. The power play just looks more active. Matt Dumba is constantly moving, plus interim Head Coach John Torchetti has the team employing one-touch passes to get the puck moving around the umbrella quickly. Dumba eventually got the puck as he's slashed down through the left circle. He attempted a pass to Charlie Coyle in the slot. Had the pass made it to him, it would have been a pretty pass, and it would have meant that Coyle would tie Parise for the team lead in goals with 18. But the Oilers defenseman's prone body got just enough to deflect the puck directly into the net.
The Oil was done yet. Some how Nail Yakupov has just eight goals on the season. With that release? Good grief, eight goals seems like a gross underachievement. Yakupov ended up taking advantage of a Prosser turnover along the half-boards and it created an odd-man chance down low with Dumba caught in No-Man's Land. the period ended with a 2-2 tie.
Ryan Suter gave the Oilers their first power play when he tried to play the puck with a broken stick. The Wild was able to kill it off and get back on the forecheck. By the way, the Wild have not been a great puck possession team since Torchetti took over. Against the Oilers, the trend wasn't about to be changed. A team that they should beat, and they got out-possessed like crazy, but when the goals are going in, what more can you ask for? Anyways, Mike Reilly kept the puck in along the blue line and worked the puck behind the net to Mikko Koivu. Koivu then centered a pass to Thomas Vanek for the third goal. It was Vanek's 16th of the season and second point of the evening.
Darcy Kuemper got the benefit of a quick whistle on a Wild delayed penalty that negated a goal for Edmonton. The refs said Spurgeon got possession of the puck before it crossed the goal line. Then Kuemper absolutely robbed Yakupov again when Yak tried to make a few dekes to get Kuemper to open up. A big save as the game was still in the balance at a 3-2 score.
Matt Dumba joined a rush into the offensive zone with Torchetti yelling for Granlund to, "go to the net!" Granlund did go for the net with Dumba's shot on goal landed in the crease and Granlund was able to knock in the rebound. That is Granlund's second in as many games.
In the third period and with a two-goal lead, The Oiler were most assuredly going to press. They pressured to much that Jared Spurgeon and Ryan Suter led a 2-on-1. There was no shot, but the thoughts of it were too funny not to share it. Charlie Coyle, had his goal get changed to Dumba's just after the second period, so it ended up not being his 18th of the season to tie Parise for the team lead. But it came later. In fact, it came in the final minute of play with the Oilers emptying the net for the extra attacker. During the period, the fire alarm started going off during play at Rexall Place. It's not the only time the alarm has gone off while Minnesota was in the building. Social media had all kind of fun with jokes about the Oilers getting "Torched," again.
Minnesota now comes home riding a three-game win streak, just in time for the Stadium Series match-up in an outdoor battle versus the Blackhawks. Look for more from Hockey Wilderness all weekend long for everything Stadium Series related.