Wild fall in shootout to Oilers; Eric Nystrom could face suspension
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ST. PAUL, Minn. - Center Anton Lander scored the only goal of a shootout as the Edmonton Oilers rallied for a 4-3 victory over the Minnesota Wild on Friday night in the team's preseason finale at Xcel Energy Center.
The Wild had taken a 3-1 lead in the third period thanks to two power-play goals.
Edmonton's comeback was overshadowed by a second-period injury suffered by Oilers defenseman Taylor Fedun, who broke his right femur as he attempted to beat Wild winger Eric Nystrom to a puck on an icing call. Nystrom was thrown out of the game after Fedun slammed into the end boards and could face a suspension from the NHL.
The injury is sure to rekindle the debate about touch-up icing and was all too reminiscent of what happend to former Wild defenseman Kurtis Foster when he broke his left femur in March 2008 when Sharks center Torrey Mitchell checked him into the end boards while attempting to prevent an icing call.
The Wild, which will open the regular season a week from Saturday at home, opened the preseason with three victories but lost to Pittsburgh, St. Louis and Columbus before losing to the Oilers in the shootout.
"It's very much what we expected," Wild coach Mike Yeo said. "It's a .500 record in preseason and it's what we deserve I think. We did a lot of good things, we did some things that we've seen that we have to improve upon. For me, I think the thing that we really have to focus on is how things are going when we're doing the good things. It sucks to blow leads, but at least we're getting leads."
The Wild scored two goals in the third period to go up by two. That came with the Oilers down to three defensemen.
Wild center Mikko Koivu broke a 1-1 tie at 47 seconds of the period when he took a pass from defenseman Marek Zidlicky and fired a shot past Devan Dubnyk from the top of the circle to the right of the Edmonton goalie.
Devin Setoguchi gave the Wild a two-goal lead at 5:44 with a slap shot from the top of the circle to the left of Dubnyk. Koivu fed Setoguchi with a pass after the center got the puck from Zidlicky.
The Oilers, however, rallied with two quick goals.
Lander won a faceoff to the left of Niklas Backstrom and pulled the puck back to Linus Omark, who snapped a shot past the glove of the Wild goalie at 13:38.
Left winger Ryan Jones tied it at 14:05 on a backhand shot from in front after he picked up a loose puck that had gone off the skate of Wild defenseman Nick Schultz.
Edmonton appeared to take a 4-3 lead with 1:38 remaining but center Gilbert Brule was called for cross-checking, thus negating a goal by Darcy Hordichuk.
The third period also featured a heavyweight fight between Wild right winger Brett Bulmer and Oilers center Lennart Petrell.
After a scoreless first period, the Wild opened the scoring only 37 seconds into the second when Pierre-Marc Bouchard brought the puck out from the right of Dubnyk and beat him with a backhand shot.
Kyle Brodziak was given the lone assist.
Edmonton tied the score at 6:57 of the second on a penalty shot by Lander. Lander was moving in on a breakaway when he was tied up from behind by Zidlicky. On the penalty shot, Lander went to his backhand and put the puck over Backstrom's glove.
Backstrom stopped 35 of 38 shots; Dubnyk stopped 22 of 25.
Koivu, Bouchard and Setoguchi all failed to score for the Wild on their attempts in the shootout.
Nystrom feels "awful"
Nystrom was given a 5-minute major for boarding and a game misconduct on the play in which Fedun was injured, but a replay showed there was no intent to injure and it appeared as if Fedun stepped on his own stick or Nystrom's stick as he approached the boards.
Nystrom said he wasn't sure what happened. Fedun, who played college hockey at Princeton and signed as a free agent in March, was taken off the ice on a stretcher.
"I feel awful," said Nystrom, who was clearly shaken. "He was really hurt, and I had obviously no intention of ever, ever doing anything like that. I was just racing for an icing and that's one of those freak things that happens in those situations and it's why people always say that rule (should be changed to no-touch icing). If I didn't think I had a legit chance at the puck I would have never raced in there, but I just thought I had good jump and I could maybe get in there. ... I feel terrible. So bad right now."
As far as facing a suspension, Nystrom said: "I don't think it's a malicous play. If anything I would blame it on the touch-icing rule. I was just racing to touch the puck. ... I had no intent of doing that. I feel awful."
Yeo acknowledged Nystrom could be suspended.
"I do know that Ny was 100 percent not trying to do anything dirty there," Yeo said. "We looked at the replay a lot of times and he's really trying to reach in. The puck is there and he's trying to make a reach at the puck. It's a really unfortunate situation. You definitely don't want to see anybody get hurt. I know probably nobody feels worse than Ny right now. He's not that kind of guy but we'll wait to see what happens there."
Oilers coach Tom Renney was not pleased.
"If you're going to give majors and whatnot to guys who carry their sticks high and don't control their sticks at head level, on an icing play like that, when you have your stick in someone's feet, regardless of whether you're going for the puck or not, that's a very, very dangerous play," Renney said. "The young fella probably lost his season because of it and who knows beyond that."
Nystrom said he could tell right away that Fedun had suffered a serious injury.
"I think that rule, if you give a shot when he's going in like that, that's the boarding," Nystrom said when asked how it could have been called a boarding call when he never slammed Fedun into the boards. "I just was going stick on puck. When a guy gets hurt like that the referee just wants to ... he said, 'I have to do that,' and I said, 'I totally understand.' It's just a play that happens in a game sometimes."
Said Oilers defenseman Theo Peckham: "When I heard the way (Fedun) was yelling, I tried to get out of there as fast as I could to get the stretcher and the paramedics out there."
Oilers defensemen Ladislav Smid and Taylor Chorney also left the game with right shoulder and right knee injuries, respectively.
Wellman, Prosser sent to Houston
The Wild reduced their roster to 23 players after Friday's game by sending forward Casey Wellman and defenseman Nate Prosser to the Houston Aeros of the American Hockey League. In addition, the Wild placed defenseman Mike Lundin and forwards Matt Kassian and Cody Almond on injured reserve.