Wild wins 9th straight home opener, beats Oilers 14th straight time at home

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  • October 14, 2010 - 11:58 PM

Taylor Hall or Steve Staios. Jordan Eberle or Sheldon Souray. Magnus Paajarvi or Jarret Stoll, Ethan Moreau or Raffi Torres. Nikolai Khabibulin or Dwayne Roloson.

Doesn't matter who the Edmonton Oilers roll out onto the ice, for some reason, the Wild's got their number here in St. Paul, where Minnesota defeated the Oilers for the 14th consecutive time tonight, 4-2, to tie Nashville for the longest active home win streak against one opponent (Columbus) in the NHL.

The Wild went 4 for 6 on the power play, the seventh time in franchise history the Wild's scored four power-play goals in a home game. It was the Wild's ninth straight home-opening victory, and yes, in front of a loud soldout crowd.

Seven of the Wild's eight goals this year have come on the power play, and tonight Mikko Koivu scored two goals and an assist, Matt Cullen scored a goal and an assist in his home debut, Antti Miettinen scored a goal and an assist and Andrew Brunette had two assists.

Niklas Backstrom made 24 saves, improving to 12-0 all-time vs. the Oilers at home and 15-2-1 overall against them.

The power play was outstanding, with Cullen making a huge difference at the point. Remember, that was one of my big reasons why I admittedly campaigned for the Wild to go after him in the first place. It wasn't easy watching Minnesota use a string of stay-at-home defensemen on the point at times last year.

But Cullen can not only motor at even-strength, where he's got exceptional skills, but he's one of those rare forwards that's just awesome at the point (i.e. not a defensive liability). And he was great tonight, as was Marek Zidlicky, who made his season debut.

The Wild's power play just ate Edmonton up, helped by guys like Brunette driving the net. Colin Fraser and Ryan Jones (yes, the Wild's former Ryan Jones), oh my, tough night. Same forward pair on the ice for every Minnesota goal.

The Wild's penalty kill will be the forgotten story tonight, but they had to kill four minors in the first period and the Wild did a tremendous job behind the play of forwards like John Madden and Chuck Kobasew and Eric Nystrom and defensemen Brent Burns, Nick Schultz and Greg Zanon.

Coach Todd Richards talked after the game about how the Wild has four solid sets of forwards he can throw out on a penalty kill -- Cullen, Koivu, Miettinen, Madden, Brodziak, Clutterbuck, Kobasew and Nystrom. Good stuff tonight.

Other tidbits:

In 14 straight home wins, Wild's outscored Edmonton 50-18

The Wild's 14-2-2 when Miettinen scores a goal at home

Brunette had his first two-assist game since Jan. 27.

Nik Backstrom is 12-0 at home against Edmonton, with get this, a 1.16 goals against average and .955 save percentage.

The Wild has scored first in all three games.

The Wild is 7 for 15 on the power play this year (46.7 percent).

OK, that's it for me. Fun night. Kent Youngblood will be covering Friday's practice as I work on my Sunday Insider package. Talk to you Saturday, but Kent will be on here Friday.


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