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Wild sweeps road trip with dads along for the ride

EDMONTON – After an even-louder-than-usual postgame cheer, Wild jerseys spilled out of the team’s quarters at Rogers Place.

But it wasn’t players getting ready to pack up and head home.

It was their dads, mentors and other guests wearing their jerseys exiting after the celebration for a 5-3 win over the Oilers on Friday – an outcome that improved the entourage to 2-0 during a two-game trip through Western Canada.



“It gives you goosebumps,” interim coach Dean Evason said. “Just as you’re talking and saying it, it gives me goosebumps. To look around the room after and to see all the jerseys, the huge smiles on dads and mentors, yeah, it’s special for sure. Very special.”

Not everyone’s dad made the trip; defenseman Jared Spurgeon’s father Barry didn’t go to Vancouver, instead meeting up with his son in his hometown of Edmonton. But once his dad was in attendance, Spurgeon shined – recording his first career hat trick to lead the Wild to a comeback victory.

“He stayed here,” Spurgeon said. “He had some work to do. I was able to go home last night, have some dinner with everyone. It’s pretty special.”

Asked if the team will petition to keep the group around as it continues its playoff push, goalie Alex Stalock said, “I don’t know if they can hang in there, honestly. I think my dad needs about a month off.”

The Wild’s rally coincided with better defending.

After the Leon Draisaitl line toyed with the team through the first two periods, recording all three of Edmonton’s goals – “Draisaitl’s line was just eating us up,” Evason said – the Wild tightened up in the third – improved play that helped it generate offense. In the end, the Wild registered a season-high 26 blocked shots.

“I think in the first two periods we had a lot of odd-man rushes against, and we had to block them,” Spurgeon said. “So, I think in the third we cleaned that up.”

The Wild wasn’t at full strength by the end of the game, with center Luke Kunin and defenseman Carson Soucy leaving the game with upper-body injuries.

Without Kunin, Evason juggled the forward lines up front by tapping into the team’s center depth since a few wingers have experience playing up the middle.

“It’s so nice,” Evason said of the versatility. “You can bump guys up and down. [Ryan Hartman] played a little bit of center, and [Alex Galchenyuk] played a little bit of center. We had a real scramble fest going there in the third, but the guys were committed and didn’t matter who we called up. They just played and played the right way. So, it’s very encouraging.”

Even playing shorthanded, the evening was a strong one for the Wild defense. Not only did it slow down the Oilers as the game progressed, but the blue line totaled six points.

“We’re playing well, and that’s how we win,” said Ryan Suter, who had two assists. “We’ve got to chip in and contribute from the back end.”

Wild won't face Connor McDavid in road trip finale vs. Oilers

EDMONTON – The Wild won’t face Oilers captain Connor McDavid Friday, as the center isn’t ready to return from a quad injury that’s sidelined him the past five games.

But the final matchup on this two-game road trip will still be quite a test.

“They’re [without] McDavid, but that means everyone else has to step up a little bit and I think teams are good at that,” defenseman Carson Soucy said. “Teams with depth and better teams are good at stepping up when their top guys are out.”



That’s certainly been the case for the Oilers, who are 3-1-1 while McDavid’s been out. Edmonton is coming off a 2-1 overtime loss to the Bruins on Wednesday.

As for the Wild, it pocketed a 4-3 shootout win that same night in Vancouver. But interim coach Dean Evason still noticed areas where the Wild could improve.

“We didn’t get as many pucks to the net as we would have liked as far as shooting the puck,” Evason said. “We got in on our forecheck. We created some turnovers but once we got the puck, we didn’t shoot it. We tried to be a little too cute.

“Defensively, we’ve got to do a better job getting out of our zone.”  

Despite winning in its last game, the Wild will make a few lineup changes ahead of taking on the Oilers.

Backup Alex Stalock will be in net, center Victor Rask will take winger Ryan Donato’s spot on the fourth line and Greg Pateryn will sub in for Brad Hunt on the third defensive pairing. These moves mean that every player will have suited up at least once during the dads/mentors’ trip.

Projected lineup:

Zach Parise-Eric Staal-Kevin Fiala

Alex Galchenyuk-Luke Kunin-Mats Zuccarello

Marcus Foligno-Joel Eriksson Ek-Jordan Greenway

Victor Rask-Mikko Koivu-Ryan Hartman

Ryan Suter-Jared Spurgeon

Jonas Brodin-Matt Dumba

Carson Soucy-Greg Pateryn

Alex Stalock

Key numbers:

14-3: Record for the Wild in its last 17 games in Edmonton.

6: Goals for winger Kevin Fiala in his past eight games.

26: Career points for center Eric Staal in 23 contests vs. the Oilers.

5: Points this season for Staal in two matchups against Edmonton.

3: Goals or more by the Wild in 14 of its last road outings.

About the Oilers:

A win by Vegas Thursday night dropped Edmonton to second in the Pacific Division with 71 points. The Oilers are one behind the Golden Knights and one ahead of the Canucks. Center Leon Draisaitl leads the NHL in scoring with 95 points through 60 games. He has points in five of his last six games, recording five goals and seven assists in that span. He also leads the NHL with 29 multi-point games.

Final, 2/21 1 2 3 F
Minnesota 29-24-7 1 2 2 5
Edmonton 32-22-7 2 1 0 3

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