The Edmonton Oilers played with an edge and an eagerness to snap out of their slump, taking full advantage of a sleepy start by Minnesota.
Darnell Nurse gave Edmonton an early boost by scoring 2:15 into the first period, and the Oilers stopped a six-game losing streak with a 4-1 victory Thursday night that sent the Wild to their fourth straight loss.
“We just were hungry,” Oilers coach Ken Hitchcock said.
Ty Rattie, Leon Draisaitl and Zack Kassian also scored, Connor McDavid and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins each had two assists, and Cam Talbot bounced back from an early exit with 35 saves for the Oilers, who were just 5-13-2 in their previous 20 games.
WATCH | Draisaitl finishes tic-tac-toe play in Oilers’ win:
They squandered a third-period lead in each of those last three losses, and Talbot was pulled Tuesday night against Chicago after giving up three goals in less than six minutes out of the second intermission.
“I thought the guys played hard for him, and he played hard for them,” Hitchcock said. “He’s got a little bit of confidence going right now, so that’s a good sign.”
Talbot won for the first time in four starts since Jan. 10.
The Wild picked up the pace in the second period with a 15-5 shots-on-goal advantage, but they found themselves in a two-goal hole at the second intermission, because of Rattie’s tap-in of a centring feed from Nugent-Hopkins only 4:32 into the middle frame.
Joel Eriksson Ek had the Wild’s lone goal 2:50 into the third period , one encouraging sign for a team that just lost captain, centre and defensive stalwart Mikko Koivu to a season-ending knee injury . Eriksson Ek was recalled from the AHL to take Koivu’s place, and coach Bruce Boudreau limited his compliments to Eriksson Ek and fellow youngsters Luke Kunin and Kyle Rau.
As for right wing Mikael Granlund, who has just two goals in his last 37 games?
“I can’t go out there and hang on his back and follow him up like a close-talker and say, ‘Hey, shoot the puck!’ He’s a smart enough player,” Boudreau said.
The Wild, who are clinging to seventh place and the first wild-card spot in the Western Conference, have 57 points for their lowest total at the 54-game mark since the 2005-06 season.
“There’s some guys out there that just are a shell of the players that I’ve known for 2 1/2 years,” Boudreau said.