EDMONTON, ALBERTA – The locals had plenty to celebrate Friday night.
But it wasn’t the Oilers.
Edmonton native Jared Spurgeon scored his first career hat trick, a natural one that featured the tying goal, the game-winner and an insurance marker, to settle a back-and-forth battle with the Oilers in the Wild’s favor 5-3 in front of 17,055 at Rogers Place — a result that gave the Wild a two-game sweep through Western Canada and moved the team within three points of the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference.
“My grandma’s at home watching with my aunt and uncle,” Spurgeon said. “But my sister, niece and brother-in-law are here with my mom and dad. It was awesome. Even to get the win, too, to keep climbing in the standings was even better.”
Defenseman Carson Soucy, who grew up outside of Edmonton, also had a goal, contributing to a six-point night for the Wild blue line that helped the team gain ground in its playoff chase after it started the trip Wednesday in Vancouver seven points shy of a berth.
“Soucy’s shot, and obviously Spurge is Spurge,” interim coach Dean Evason said. “He’s just an amazing player.”
Players’ dads, mentors and other guests were along for the road trip, but Spurgeon’s dad didn’t make it out to Vancouver for the first game. But after dinner at home Thursday night, he put on quite a show for his family.
With the Wild trailing 3-2, Spurgeon tied the score on a wind-up from inside the right faceoff circle that eluded goalie Mikko Koskinen 10 minutes, 55 seconds into the second period.
At 10:07 of the third, his shot clipped Oilers defenseman Adam Larsson’s stick and slipped between Koskinen and the near post. Ryan Suter’s assist on Spurgeon’s goal was his second of the contest.
And then with 1:38 to go, Spurgeon completed the natural hat trick into an empty net — the first three-goal game of his career after three times scoring twice in a game. He now has 11 points in his past 14 appearances.
“The first one we had a good long shift in the O-zone, and it just popped out to me,” Spurgeon said. “The second one I just threw on net, and it went in.”
Spurgeon is only the second Wild defenseman to record a hat trick, following Suter in January 2014.
Still without Connor McDavid, as the captain continues to recover from a quad injury, Edmonton opened the scoring on the game’s first shot from Ryan Nugent-Hopkins only 50 seconds in.
The Wild answered at 8:25 when winger Kevin Fiala picked up a Koskinen rebound and flung it into the net for his seventh goal and 12th point over his past nine games.
Before the first period ended, the Oilers retook the lead on Nugent-Hopkins’ second goal of the night at 13:04, but Soucy tied it on a wrist shot that handcuffed Koskinen at 5:48 of the second.
“It got loud when Souc scored,” said Stalock, who posted 23 saves compared with 34 for Koskinen. “Boy, you could tell he had some fans here.”
Again, though, the Oilers responded.
This time, Leon Draisaitl’s backhand from the corner deflected off Jordan Greenway’s skate and flew past Stalock at 8:01.
After that, Spurgeon took over — the standout during a much tighter effort by the Wild in the third that included two penalty kills against the NHL’s top power play. The Wild also went 0-for-2 and ended up blocking a season-high 26 shots.
“We started to hold onto the puck more and get more chances,” Spurgeon said.
What made the push in the third even more impressive is the Wild did most of it shorthanded.
Luke Kunin didn’t play after the first period, and Soucy left in the third. Both suffered upper-body injuries.
“All year we’ve said it doesn’t matter who’s playing,” Suter said. “We just have to go out and compete. When we work hard and stay with it, we usually get the result we want.”