The Minnesota Wild came into the game having lost eight games in a row with no end in sight of when it may end. Their opponent, the Edmonton Oilers, had beaten them in the previous two meetings this season.
Dany Heatley, the evenings hero for the Wild, scored his third goal in four games to help snap an eight game losing streak and beat the Oilers 4-3. The goal for Heatley was his 12th goal of the season and would be the game winning goal for the Wild.
The game had a slew of penalties, the Wild tallying 36 minutes while the Oilers were no slouch with 32 minutes on the board. Wild goalie, Niklas Backstrom, normally calm and displays little emotion on the ice was penalized early in the third period. Backstrom tangled with Oilers winger Ryan Jones in front of the goal as Jones jockeyed for position in the crease before he finally Backstrom finally slammed him to the ice. Backstrom was whistled for roughing, but Jones would also visit the penalty box for goaltender interference. “At some point, enough is enough,” Backstrom said after the game.
Mikko Koivu, Jarod Palmer and Pierre-Marc Bouchard would each have a goal in the Wild victory. Marek Zidlicky had three assist while Greg Zanon recorded two for the Wild. The win for goaltender Backstrom improved his record to 16-0-0 at Xcel Energy Center against the Oliers in his career.
Taylor Hall, Ladislav Smid and Shawn Horcoff scored for the Oilers who have lost six straight road games. With the loss, the Oliers now fall to 3-8 in December.
Wild enforcer Matt Kassian was called up from Houston-AHL prior to last night’s game, replacing RW Jon DiSalvatore who returned back to the minors. Kassian fought with Oilers’ enforcer, Darcy Hordichuk twice, both times Kassian came out on top. With 36 minutes in penalties, maybe using their fists was the answer that provided the spark the Wild needed.
“There’s going to be some bad blood. It makes for fun hockey,” Heatley said.
Tonight’s matchup will mark the end between the Wild and Oilers as Northwest Division opponents; the realignment next season will send the Wild to a new set of division foes. The shame of the realignment will mean the growing rivalry between the Wild and Oilers will be no more.