Oilers lose 12th straight in Minnesota

Anton Khudobin acknowledged feeling a little nervous at the start of his sudden NHL debut.

Minnesota Wild goalie Anton Khudobin

Minnesota Wild goalie Anton Khudobin

Wild 4 Oilers 2

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Anton Khudobin acknowledged feeling a little nervous at the start of his sudden NHL debut.

He sure didn’t show it.

Martin Havlat’s first two-goal game for Minnesota, and Khudobin’s flawless emergency goaltending gave the Wild a 4-2 win over Edmonton 4-2 on Thursday night for their 12th straight home victory over the Oilers.

“It’s pretty tough, but what can you do?” said Khudobin, who was awarded his first career victory after stopping a total of nine shots in less than 10 minutes after Josh Harding was injured. “It’s your job. You have to do it.”

Antti Miettinen’s early third-period goal, his career-high 16th, made it 2-1 for the Wild before the game took a dramatic turn.

Marc Pouliot punched in the tying score in thick traffic for Edmonton while a sprawled-out Harding desperately tried to keep the puck from getting in. Harding aggravated a hip injury he’s been bothered by lately on that play and later hurt it worse while making a highlight-reel diving save of a dangerous, open shot by Jean-Francois Jacques.

With regular starter Niklas Backstrom sick and another backup Wade Dubielewicz scratched for the game, Khudobin was sent in with 9:33 remaining.

“Everybody came to me and just said, ’Relax. Play your game,”’ said Khudobin, who was called up from Houston of the AHL before the game. “I just said to myself, ’I have to stop the first shot, and it’ll be OK after that.”

He made several difficult saves during a power play to help preserve the victory. Then Guillaume Latendresse manoeuvred through the slot for a back-hander with 7:48 left, and Havlat — who was strong all night and got some double shifts with the Wild using only 11 forwards — stretched the lead a little later.

Coach Todd Richards was beaming afterward about the rookie goalie’s performance.

“He looked confident and ready to go,” Richards said. “Those young kids, when you get your opportunity you’re always thinking about succeeding.”

Mike Comrie scored for the first time in three months for the Oilers, whose modest two-game winning streak ended on the heels of a brutal six-week stretch that pushed them to the bottom of the league. Coach Pat Quinn lamented three goals “that you don’t really like” in the third period.

Jeff Deslauriers made 30 saves, but the late lapse dimmed a bit his 1-0 shutout of Philadelphia the night before.

“That’s been the story of a lot of our games,” Quinn said. “We just don’t do it, and they do. We waste a good effort. I suppose it’s not a waste if we learn something.”

The Oilers were tired after a late-night arrival from Edmonton.

“Our legs were maybe tired and not ready because we didn’t skate this morning,” Pouliot said. “I think overall we did pretty well.”

After an almost unfathomable 1-18-2 record from mid-December through the end of January, the Oilers started February strong with two wins this week. They got a break here, too, when nemesis Backstrom was put on injured reserve by the Wild before the game.

Backstrom, who missed his fourth straight game, was in the net for all 11 of Minnesota’s wins during the streak against Edmonton at Xcel Energy Center with a goals against average of 1.08. The rest of the Wild goalies who previously played at home against the Oilers were a collective 4-9-1.

After Dubielewicz started in Tuesday night’s defeat at Dallas and ended the Backstrom-Harding tandem streak at 234 games, dating four seasons, Harding got the call for this game despite his less-than-healthy hip.

In the end, the Wild had a solid start for their critical five-game homestand without the lament of numerous wasted scoring chances throughout the first two periods. They’re 7-0-1 in their last eight games here.

NOTES: Following their game in Edmonton on Wednesday night, both the Oilers and the Flyers flew to Minnesota. Philadelphia faces the Wild here Saturday night. … The Wild have outscored the Oilers 43-14 during this home winning streak. Their last loss to Edmonton at home was more than three years ago. … Antti Miettinen has at least one goal in seven of his last nine games for the Wild. … Comrie scored on a power play in the second period, seconds after a 5-on-3 ended. The two-time 30-goal scorer missed 30 games this season because of mononucleosis. … Richards on Harding: “We’ll talk to the doctors and find out what’s going on. He had to have been hurting pretty bad seeing him come off the ice.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Artist Delree Dumont has painted an Indigenous mural at St. Joseph High School. (Contributed photo)
Indigenous mural painted on Red Deer high school walls

A new Indigenous mural now sits on the walls of St. Joseph… Continue reading

Red Deer College (Contributed photo)
RDC tuitions to go up 7%

Tuition increase the maximum allowed under provincial rules

This unicorn was stolen from the small community of Delia, northeast of Drumheller on Friday and was recovered, with its bronze horn broken off, on Saturday. RCMP are looking for information on the suspects.
(Photo from RCMP)
Unicorn statue stolen from Delia recovered

Statue found with horn broken off in field about 15 km from Delia

(Advocate file photo)
Lacombe man whose manslaughter sentence was rejected by judge has new lawyer

Judge rejected proposed seven-year sentence for manslaughter in connection with 2019 homicide

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a news conference at Rideau cottage in Ottawa, on Friday, March 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand
Liberals to release federal budget with eye on managing crisis, post-pandemic growth

OTTAWA — The federal government will this afternoon unveil its spending plans… Continue reading

A vial of the Medicago vaccine sits on a surface. CARe Clinic, located in Red Deer, has been selected to participate in the third phase of vaccine study. (Photo courtesy www.medicago.com)
Red Deer clinical research centre participating in plant-based COVID-19 vaccine trial

A Red Deer research centre has been selected to participate in the… Continue reading

University of Victoria rowing coach Barney Williams is photographed in the stands during the Greater Victoria Invitational at CARSA Performance Gym at the University of Victoria in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, November 29, 2019. The University of Victoria says Williams has resigned effective immediately. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
University of Victoria women’s rowing coach resigns by mutual agreement

VICTORIA — The University of Victoria says the head coach of its… Continue reading

Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley announces proposed new legislation to protect Alberta’s mountains and watershed from coal mining at a news conference in Calgary on Monday, March 15, 2021. A group of 35 scientists from the University of Alberta are urging the provincial government to rethink its plans for expanding coal-mining in the Rocky Mountains. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Alberta scientists urge adoption of bill that would protect against coal mining

EDMONTON — Some 35 scientists from the University of Alberta are urging… Continue reading

A driver shows identification to an Ottawa police officer as a checkpoint as vehicles enter the province from Quebec Monday April 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Quebec and Ontario impose travel restrictions to slow surging virus variants

Ontario and Quebec imposed new interprovincial travel restrictions on Monday amid growing… Continue reading

Education Minister Adriana LaGrange was in Red Deer on Friday to provide an update on the province's COVID-19 response in schools.
Photo by PAUL COWLEY/Advocate staff
LaGrange: Feedback needed to refine curriculum

As the Minister of Education my role has been guided by a… Continue reading

In this Feb. 24, 2020, photo, the Olympics rings are reflected on the window of a hotel restaurant as a server with a mask sets up a table, in the Odaiba section of Tokyo. The vaccine rollout in Japan has been very slow with less than 1% vaccinated. This of course is spilling over to concerns about the postponed Tokyo Olympics that open in just over three months.(AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)
Will Japanese Olympians be vaccinated ahead of the public?

TOKYO — The vaccine rollout in Japan has been very slow with… Continue reading

PSG's Kylian Mbappe, right, greets Bayern's Lucas Hernandez at the end of the Champions League, second leg, quarterfinal soccer match between Paris Saint Germain and Bayern Munich at the Parc des Princes stadium, in Paris, France, Tuesday, April 13, 2021. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
PSG, Bayern the big names missing from Super League plan

DÜSSELDORF, Germany — The plan for the new Super League soccer competition… Continue reading

In this image released by Paramount Pictures, Marion Cotillard, left, and Brad Pitt appear in a scene from "Allied." (Daniel Smith/Paramount Pictures via AP)
Leo Carax’s ‘Annette’ to open Cannes Film Festival

Leo Carax’s “Annette,” starring Marion Cotillard and Adam Driver, will open the… Continue reading

From left, Producer Doug Mitchell, actor Chris Hemsworth and director George Miller attend at a press conference to announce the new "Mad Max" film at Fox Studios Australia in Sydney, Monday, April 19, 2021. (Mick Tsikas/AAP Image via AP)
‘Mad Max’ prequel shot in Outback to be released in 2023

SYDNEY, Australia — A prequel to the “Mad Max” movie franchise starring… Continue reading

Most Read