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Postgame: Wild quiets Oilers' McDavid, Draisaitl

This wasn’t the first time this season the Wild tasked the Jordan Greenway, Joel Eriksson Ek and Luke Kunin line with shadowing Oilers phenom Connor McDavid.

In the previous matchup, McDavid and wingman Leon Draisaitl were held pointless in a 3-0 win for the Wild on Oct.22.

And although the NHL’s top two scorers combined for three points Thursday, the end result was the same: a win for the Wild, this time 6-5 over the Oilers at Xcel Energy Center.

 

 

“I thought we did a really good job neutralizing them for as long as we did,” Greenway said. “It was a good goal [by McDavid]. I think we had a little breakdown. We aren't going to be perfect every night. On the flip side of it, we produced offensively. I think that was huge to help us out.”

Draisaitl converted on the power play on a setup by McDavid, but the two were mostly quiet Thursday. It wasn’t until 12 minutes, 49 seconds elapsed in the third that McDavid scored to tie the game at 4 when he found an open lane.

But the significance of the goal was downgraded once the Wild responded with two of its own: one by center Eric Staal and then the eventual game-winner from Kunin, which both of his linemates assisted on at 16:21 of the third.

“Last game we played them I thought we did a good job taking their time and space away,” Kunin said. “We tried to do the same tonight.”

Greenway, Eriksson Ek and Kunin weren’t the only youngsters to impress.

Defenseman Carson Soucy continues to emerge as a reliable force on the back end.

Against Edmonton, he finished plus-4 (tying a Wild rookie record) after helping shut down McDavid and Draisaitl and chipping in two assists – all while he continues to play on his off-wing next to Jonas Brodin on the team’s second pairing.

"He's made it easy for me,” Soucy said. “Lots of times, he goes back there, breaks the puck up by himself and we're going the other way. Obviously, still getting a little bit used to it on the right side, but he's made it easy for me.”

Center Ryan Donato pushed his goal streak to three games, a career-high, after scoring in the second period – his fifth goal in the last eight games.

“I'm a guy that always wants to have confidence,” Donato said. “I feel like I've always had it, but just to see them go in definitely helps. For me, it's just trying to stay patient, not trying to force anything to get those opportunities, just waiting and knowing if I do the right things, playing with guys like Zach [Parise] and Kevin [Fiala], with a great bunch of ‘D,’ good things are going to happen.”

And although he was tagged for five goals, netminder Kaapo Kahkonen improved to 3-0-1 this season and for his NHL career.

“I don’t think he was as sharp as he was in the first couple games,” coach Bruce Boudreau said. “He didn’t get the rest in between that we’ve been giving him. There was a reason for that. But he came in and got the win. He’s 3-0-1 in the NHL. If you’re a Major League Baseball pitcher, you can have a 6.0 ERA [but] if you’re 8-0, you’re doing good.”

Staal a game-time decision, Dubnyk skates at morning workout

Center Eric Staal didn’t finish Tuesday’s game, leaving in the first period of an eventual 3-2 shootout loss to the Ducks after he collided with a linesman along the boards, but Staal could play Thursday against the Oilers at Xcel Energy Center.

 

 

Staal is considered a game-time decision after participating in the team’s morning skate. Just in case Staal can’t play, the Wild will dress winger Gerald Mayhew – whom the team recalled from the minors Wednesday – for warmups.

“He’s tough,” coach Bruce Boudreau said of Staal. “If you look at his games played for the seasons, he doesn’t miss too much because Eric’s a pretty tough kid. We want him to be 100 percent and if he’s 100 percent, he’ll play.”

If Staal suits up, the Wild could use the same lineup against Edmonton that it had Tuesday.

That’s because goalie Kaapo Kahkonen will make back-to-back starts, the first time that’s happened this season, and defenseman Brennan Menell is also playing after making his NHL debut vs. Anaheim.

“I feel that I've always liked that a little more, getting to play regularly,” Kahkonen said. “Obviously, it's a team game and I play whenever I get a chance to play and try to do my best and help the team out. I think right now I still approach it the same way.”

Goalie Devan Dubnyk, who’s been away from the team while his wife Jenn deals with a medical situation, skated Thursday morning, and Boudreau said Dubnyk is hoping to accompany the team on its upcoming road trip.

“We should know more about it by the weekend,” Boudreau said.

Projected lineup:

Jason Zucker-Eric Staal-Mats Zuccarello

Zach Parise-Ryan Donato-Kevin Fiala

Jordan Greenway-Joel Eriksson Ek-Luke Kunin

Marcus Foligno-Victor Rask-Ryan Hartman

Ryan Suter-Matt Dumba

Jonas Brodin-Carson Soucy

Brad Hunt-Brennan Menell

Kaapo Kahkonen

Key numbers:

7-0-3: Record for the Wild during its 10-game point streak on home ice.

8-1-4: Showing overall for the Wild during its last 13 games.

2: Goals for center Ryan Donato in his past two outings.

10:23: Ice time for Menell in his NHL debut.

.947: Save percentage for Kahkonen this season.

About the Oilers:

Edmonton is sitting atop the Pacific Division, but the team has been up and down of late. The Oilers are 4-5-1 over their last 10 and are coming off a 6-3 loss at home to the Hurricanes on Tuesday. Captain Connor McDavid leads the NHL in points with 55, and winger Leon Draisaitl is second with 54. Edmonton’s power play is especially potent, ranking first in the NHL at 31.6 percent. The Oilers’ penalty kill is seventh at 84.6 percent.

Final, 12/12 1 2 3 F
Edmonton 18-12-4 1 1 3 5
Minnesota 15-12-5 2 2 2 6

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