Michael Russo has covered the National Hockey League since 1995. He has covered the Minnesota Wild for the Star Tribune since 2005, after 10 years of covering the Florida Panthers for the Sun-Sentinel. He uses “Russo’s Rants” to feed a wide-ranging hockey-centric discussion with readers, and can be heard weekly on KFAN (100.3 FM) radio and seen weekly on Fox Sports North.

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Patient Wild takes advantage of another leaky Oilers performance

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild game coverage Updated: January 16, 2014 - 11:31 PM

Twentieth win in the past 22 home games against the Oilers tonight as the Wild snapped a 1-1 tie with three goals in a 3:23 span to win for the sixth time in eight games.

The 8th-place Wild and slumping 7th-place Canucks are now tied with 57 points, but Vancouver has two games in hand. Phoenix won to stay four behind the Wild with three games in hand.

Dallas, 2-7-1 in its past 10, lost and is eight points behind the Wild heading into the home-and-home with Minnesota that starts Saturday with Hockey Day Minnesota.

Speaking of Hockey Day Minnesota, Nate Prosser, the product of the host city of Elk River, scored his first career winning goal and first goal in almost two years late in the second period. Justin Fontaine scored 2:12 later and then Jason Zucker scored the fastest Wild goal to ever start a period eight seconds into the third off a great give and go with Dany Heatley.

Jason Pominville scored a goal and assist for his 120th multi-point game of his career and Darcy Kuemper made 20 saves for his first home win of the season.

Prosser was the big story. He has played seven games for injured Jared Spurgeon and is plus-7 in that span next to mostly Marco Scandella averaging 17:19 a game. Tonight, he was plus-3 in 20:09 of ice time.

Read the gamer for much, much more on Prosser, and I’ll be writing a profile on him next week. I sat down with yesterday.

One unsung thing in this game was the play of Matt Cooke-Kyle Brodziak-Fontaine. The line shut down the Ryan Nugent-Hopkins-Sam Gagner-Taylor Hall line in a big way by spending much of the night in the offensive zone.

Brodziak was always on the right side of the puck. Sure, scoring is a chore for him, but one reason why he gets so many scoring chances is he’s usually doing all the right things leading up to the scoring chance that, well, he usually doesn’t bury.

But after Cooke crushed Nail Yakupov (he left with a head injury; clean hit), it triggered a 3-on-2, and Fontaine scored on Brodziak’s rebound.

Up to the point Prosser and Fontaine scored, the Oilers had the Wild hemmed in its zone for much of the second period. The Wild stayed composed and kept the Oilers to the outside, but fans were understandably starting to freak as the Oilers began skating circles around Minnesota.

But a Ryan Jones turnover to Pominville led to Prosser’s goal to stop the bleeding. It was then all Wild from that point forward.

Ben Scrivens will quickly learn he’s not in L.A. anymore. This poor goalie came to Edmonton on Wednesday with a 1.97 goals-against average. The Oilers are the worst defensive team in the NHL, have allowed four or more goals 29 times and have been beaten by three or more 16 times.

Just look at the awful D on the Zucker goal, his fourth in eight games.

Heck, just look at the Wild’s first goal.

Mikael Granlund made it all happen. After Scandella cleared the zone, Granlund’s hustle coupled with a rolling puck forced the linesman to wave off an icing.

With rookie defenseman Martin Marincin, who will be on Slovakia’s Olympic team next month, asleep at the switch, Granlund stole the puck and centered for Pominville, who made one deke to create an open net for himself before his team-leading 19th goal.

“He just forechecked really hard,” Pominville said of Granlund. “I gave him a yell. He knew where I was and flipped it to the area.”

Scrivens had to be thinking, “I don’t remember Drew Doughty ever getting his pocket picked in front of the net.”

That’s it for me. I’ll talk to you after Friday’s practice.

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