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Wild snap out of it

They halt 8-game skid in chippy affair

Associated Press / December 30, 2011
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Niklas Backstrom and the Minnesota Wild were fed up.

With the way the Edmonton Oilers were playing against them. With two losses in a row to their soon-to-be-former division rival. With an eight-game losing streak that sent them tumbling out of first place in the NHL.

Dany Heatley scored his third goal in four games to help the Wild snap out of their skid and beat the Oilers, 4-3, last night at St. Paul in a snippy game from start to finish.

“At some point, enough is enough,’’ Backstrom said. “We get run over two or three times every game and keep hearing it’s an accident. I think we’re smarter than that. It’s not by accident.’’

Oilers left wing Ryan Smyth even took a swing at Backstrom as the game ended.

“He slashed me four times before that, so I had a lot of things to catch up on,’’ Backstrom deadpanned.

Mikko Koivu, Jarod Palmer, and Pierre-Marc Bouchard also scored for the Wild, who went 0-5-3 following a seven-game winning streak.

Marek Zidlicky had three assists and fellow defenseman Greg Zanon had two for the Wild, whose 17-game home winning streak against the Oilers ended Nov. 25. The Oilers have lost six straight road games since. They fell to 3-8 in December.

Taylor Hall, Ladislav Smid, and Shawn Horcoff scored for the Oilers, who have lost six of seven. Their win was against the Wild last week.

“I love emotion in our game, and we had emotion right down the line,’’ Wild coach Mike Yeo said.

Matt Kassian fought Darcy Hordichuk twice, both times taking down the Oilers’ enforcer. He pumped his arm after the first one to encourage the fans and twirled his finger after the second one as he skated off.

“I like the fact that it was emotional and there was some animosity,’’ Oilers coach Tom Renney said. “It makes for good rivalries.’’

Flyers 4, Penguins 2 - Jaromir Jagr and Max Talbot both scored in their return to Pittsburgh as Philadelphia snapped the Penguins’ four-game winning streak.

“I felt pretty good but I had so many chances that if I would have scored five goals, nobody would be surprised,’’ Jagr said.

Lightning 4, Canadiens 3 - Vincent Lecavalier had a tiebreaking goal midway through the third period, and Steven Stamkos got his 23d of the season for host Tampa Bay, which has won four of six.

Lecavalier gave Tampa Bay, which trailed, 3-2, after two, a 4-3 advantage on a rebound at 8:37.

Hurricanes 4, Maple Leafs 3 - Eric Staal scored a power-play goal in overtime to lift host Carolina.

Blue Jackets 4, Stars 1 - Rick Nash scored twice, Steve Mason made 36 saves, and Columbus registered its first regulation road win of the season.

Islanders 3, Flames 1 - John Tavares scored a goal and added an assist, and Evgeni Nabokov made 29 saves to lead the host Islanders, who snapped a three-game losing streak.

Jets 1, Kings 0 - Evander Kane scored the only goal 69 seconds into overtime, and Chris Mason made 31 saves for host Winnipeg, which moved into a tie with Toronto and New Jersey for sixth in the East.

Canucks 5, Ducks 2 - Daniel Sedin scored two goals, brother Henrik had a goal and two assists, and Vancouver tied Chicago for first in the overall standings with a road win over Anaheim.

Avalanche 3, Coyotes 2 - Semyon Varlamov made 25 saves, Gabriel Landeskog had a goal and an assist, and Colorado finished 8-1 at home in December.

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