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Wild 3, Oilers 1

The SportsXchange

EDMONTON -- It's strange how a team that just spent $196 million on improvements doesn't look any different to the Edmonton Oilers.

The new-look Minnesota Wild beat them just like the old-look Minnesota Wild always beat them.

Having won 10 of their last 12 games against Edmonton before adding coveted free agents Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, the Wild made it 11 of 13 Thursday with a 3-1 victory at Rexall Place.

For all of their off-season moves, the Wild have been underwhelming so far. Despite spending $196 million to get Ryan Suter from Nashville and Zach Parise from New Jersey, they are beneath both of those teams in the standings and are still the lowest scoring team in the NHL.

But they have more than enough going for them to beat the Oilers, breaking open a 1-1 game with two goals from Matt Cullen in the third period.

After a scoreless and hopelessly boring first period -- the shots were 5-2 through 16 minutes -- the teams finally generated some offense in the second period. Edmonton struck first, with veteran Ryan Smyth, celebrating his 37th birthday, making it 1-0 on a wraparound at 12:26. The crowd at Rexall Place even got into the moment by breaking into a chorus of "Happy Birthday."

But the celebration was short-lived as Minnesota tied it less than three minutes later when Matt Cullen scored on a partial breakaway.

It was 1-1 after 40.

A defensive zone turnover early in the third period led to Devin Setoguchi's third of the season, giving Minnesota a 2-1 lead. Cullen added another with six minutes left to seal it.

The Oilers are now 1-3 through four games of a five-game homestand that precedes a nine-game, 17-day road trip that will surely define their season. They were hoping to at least be in a playoff spot when they hit the road, but that's not going to happen.

NOTES: Thursday marked the first game between Edmonton and Minnesota since Oilers defenseman Nick Schultz and Wild defenseman Tom Gilbert were traded for each other last year. Thanks to a quirk in the schedule -- and the lockout -- it has been 420 days since the division rivals last played. ... Eighteen of Dany Heatley's 29 goals for Minnesota have been the team's first goal of the game. ... Edmonton LW Ryan Jones is moving closer to the lineup. Coach Ralph Krueger said Jones is "in the starting blocks." ... Lennart Petrell, who has been out since being hit in the head with a puck during warm-ups last week, is improving. He skated for the first time Thursday. ... D Theo Peckham, back from his AHL conditioning stint after reporting to training camp badly out of shape, played his first game of the season, taking veteran Ryan Whitney's spot in the lineup.
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