Sunday, March 29, 2009

Game #76: Wild 3, Oilers 2

So, if they don't go quietly, will they still go away?

Many fans of the Minnesota Wild are pondering that question, after their Wild took a badly-needed two points in regulation as the Wild beat the Edmonton Oilers 3-2 Sunday evening at Rexall Place. The Wild finish the season having only won once in the 6 games played in the Province of Alberta.

Marian Gaborik led the charge with the game-winning goal in the third period, and assisted on Andrew Brunette's game-opener. Martin Skoula -- yes, him -- scored for the second time in three games as the Wild end the season series vs. the Oilers 4 wins to 2, holding the tie-breaker over the Oilers, who continue a season-ending six game homestand Tuesday night vs. the Anaheim Ducks, whom the Oil defeated 5-3 in Southern California Friday night despite Oilers goalie Dwayne Roloson facing 54 Duck shots.

With both St. Louis and Nashville winning on Sunday, however, the Wild are still three points away from the 8th and final playoff spot in the NHL's Western Conference. The Wild finally return home beginning on Tuesday night for four of their last six games, after a 4-8-2 road record since Feb. 27, during their 14-of-17 game road marathon caused by tournaments on three successive weekends.

Niklas Backstrom also continued his strong play, stopping 31 of 33 Edmonton shots as the Oilers lost their fourth game in their last five. The Wild end the night in 11th place, 1 point behind 10th-place Edmonton. The sellout crowd of 16,839 was the 150th consecutive sellout of Rexall Place for the Oilers.

Chicken Little: The Wild won't keep this up. No way.

Pollyanna: Why can't they? Four of the next six are at home!

Bottom Line: The only thing consistent about this season's Wild team is their inconsistency. Tonight, two more forwards went down (Clutterbuck, Fritsche) for at least part of the game. How many more injuries can this team stand? I really wish they'd make it, but realistically, there's no way, especially if everyone's banged up.

Stud: Backstrom again; He kept the Wild in the game, especially after the Oilers' Alex Kotalik scored with just under 5 minutes left in the third.

Dud: Again, no dud-ism to be seen. Everyone had at least a decent game.

Next: vs. Vancouver, Tuesday, March 31. 7 PM Central (5 PM Pacific) Time, Xcel Energy Center. (TV: KSTC-45. Rogers SportsNet-Pacific, XM Ch. 208)

WRT (happy there are no more late games)

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