EDMONTON, Alberta – The personnel was the same, and the strategy was like the one deployed in the past.
But what did change was the execution.
After the power play fizzled when the Wild needed it most Monday in a letdown to the Canucks, the unit not only helped the team keep pace in a scoring slugfest with the Oilers, but ultimately led to a hard-fought 4-3 victory Tuesday in front of 18,347 at Rogers Place for just the Wild’s second road victory of the season.
“The guys on the power play are out there to make plays and be a difference,” center Eric Staal said. “Tonight we were.”
The Wild capitalized on all three of its power-play chances, with the final tally from winger Mikael Granlund at 14 minutes, 12 seconds of the third period, giving the team a lead it wouldn’t relinquish.
Granlund unloaded a blistering shot from the right side for his sixth goal and 12th point during a nine-game point streak.
“There was a lot of room just to walk in,” he said. “I saw a hole there and just tried to go for it. Luckily it went in.”
Although this effort was far from the 5-2 dud in Vancouver the night before, which halted the team’s five-game winning streak, it looked like this one could follow a similar script after the Wild tripped into an early hole and got into penalty trouble.
Shortly after an Oilers power play expired, center Leon Draisaitl opened the scoring 8:11 into the first period when he slung a loose puck near the back post by Wild backup Alex Stalock — the ninth time in the past 10 games in which the Wild yielded the first goal.
The Wild was able to erase that deficit later in the frame with its first power-play tally when Zach Parise buried a puck that hit him as a screen at 14:08.
Edmonton reinstated its lead on an impressive sequence from captain Connor McDavid early in the second.
McDavid flew by defenseman Ryan Suter, cut to the middle and roofed a puck over Stalock at 4:10.
“There’s not many players in this league with that speed,” said Stalock, who had 34 stops. “He knows how to use it.”
This was the juncture of the game where the Canucks started to pull away from the Wild, tacking on another goal amid a 1-for-5 showing for the power play. But the Wild didn’t shrink under the pressure this time.
Instead, it rallied.
“We feel like we can come back any time,” Staal said.
Defenseman Jared Spurgeon knotted the score at 2, pinching deep into the Oilers’ zone to wire a puck by Talbot.
Only 53 seconds later, Edmonton responded when winger Alex Chiasson deflected in a point shot by defenseman Matt Benning.
But again, the Wild persevered and the power play was responsible.
Staal redirected a Ryan Suter point shot for his 399th career goal at 18:20.
“We are still getting comfortable with our setup and our guys and how we move,” Staal said. “I thought we did a little bit of a better job of shooting pucks and had a little bit more of an attack mentality toward the net.”
And when the Wild earned one more look with the man advantage, Granlund broke the 3-3 tie.
“He is our catalyst,” coach Bruce Boudreau said of Granlund. “It’s why he plays the most, and he’s usually our leading scorer. When you need something done, he’s the guy you want to have the puck.”