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Updated: December 23rd, 2011 12:02am
Oilers jump to early lead, hand depleted Wild their 6th straight loss

Oilers jump to early lead, hand depleted Wild their 6th straight loss

by Marley McMillan
1500ESPN.com
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The injury-stricken Minnesota Wild's losing streak reached six on Thursday night as they concluded a three-game western Canada road trip with a 4-1 loss to the Edmonton Oilers at Rexell Place.

The skinny

The Oilers potted two goals to end the first period and two goals to start the second to take a four-goal lead with more than half the game to play.

Dany Heatley scored the Wild's lone goal with 12 minutes, 3 seconds left in the third period. But they couldn't get any closer.

Despite getting outshot 20-3 in the first, the Wild evened up shots at 31 to conclude the game. Niklas Backstrom stopped 27 shots in the loss.

Jordan Eberle commenced the Oilers' scoring spree with a wrist shot past Backstrom's blocker with just over four minutes left in the first period.

Ryan Smyth followed suit, collecting the puck behind the Wild's net and wrapping it around and over Backstrom's left skate to put the Oilers up 2-0.

With 12 seconds remaining in the first period, Clayton Stoner tripped Taylor Hall on a breakaway. Hall was sent to center ice for the penalty shot. Hall's move to the left side did not fool Backstrom, who easily stopped the on-ice shot with his right pad.

Lennart Petrell increased the Oilers' lead shorthanded on a quick half slapshot from the slot just 1:46 into the second period.

Minutes later, Eberle stickhandled past Wild defensemen and Backstrom for his second goal of the game to make it 4-0.

Turning point

Ending the first period on Hall's missed breakaway and a boarding penalty by Ben Eager, the Wild started the second down by two and on the power play.

They might have stood a chance at a comeback, but instead, the Oilers scored two goals of their own to double their lead to four.

Numbers game

• 31: Shots by Wild and Oilers in the game. The Wild were outshot 20-3 by the Oilers in the first, but outshot the Oilers 13-9 and 15-2 in the final periods.

• 0: power play goals scored by the Wild on five attempts. The Oilers were 1-for-4.

• 1: Losses for Backstrom against the Oilers this season. He boasted a perfect 3-0-0 record on 1.24 goals against entering Thursday's contest.

Health watch

• Marik Zidlicky and Cal Clutterbuck were both victims of hard hits in Thursday's game. If they suffered injuries remains to be seen. The two have already missed time this season due to injuries.

Mikko Koivu (lower body) is on injured reserve, but the team hopes for his return on Monday.

Casey Wellman (upper body), Devin Setoguchi (lower body) and Guillaume Latendresse (concussion symptoms) remain on injured reserve.

Summary

First period

Oilers - Jordan Eberle (unassisted), 4:03 PP
Oilers - Ryan Smyth (L. Smid, T. Gilbert), 18:36 EV
Oilers Penalty Shot (unsuccessful) - Taylor Hall, 19:48

Second period

Oilers - Lennart Petrell (unassisted), 1:40 SH
Oilers - Jordan Eberle (R. Nugent-Hopkins, C. Potter), 2:56 EV

Third period

Wild - Dany Heatley (M. Cullen, J. Spurgeon), 7:57 EV

Shots: Wild 3-13-15-31; Oilers 20-9-2-31. Saves: Wild, Niklas Backstrom (27-31); Oilers Nikolai Khabibulin (30-31). Power plays: Wild 0-for-5, Oilers 1-for-4.

Three stars

1. Jordan Eberle
2. Nikolai Khabibulin
3. Ryan Smyth

Coming up

The Wild will rest over the holiday weekend before returning to action against the Colorado Avalanche on Monday at Xcel Energy Center.

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