Relegated to backup duty since being recalled from the minors on January 7, Kochan was pressed into action when Dwayne Roloson returned to Minnesota to join his wife for the birth of their second child. Making his first NHL appearance since April 10 with Tampa Bay, Kochan was torched for five goals on 28 shots as the Wild fell to 2-11-2 all-time against Edmonton.
“It’s kind of tough for him, he hasn’t been in an NHL game (this season) and he plays against a team that shoots the puck well,” Minnesota coach Jacques Lemaire said. “He had a couple of tough breaks, and a goal like the one that went in off a shin pad is the kind that can take away your confidence.”
Chimera netted his ninth goal of the season at 3:46 on the Oilers’ first shot of the game and completed his first career multi-goal effort midway through the second.
“Anytime you’ve got a goalie who’s not very experienced in the league, you want to test him early,” Chimera said. “You know he’s going to be nervous, so you throw some rubber at him and maybe he’ll let something get by.”
“I knew Chimera was going to have a great night,” Edmonton coach Craig MacTavish said. “I looked over as we were getting ready to go out for the first period and he was yawning. To me, that’s a sign that a player is comfortable and ready to roll.”
Cleary gave Edmonton a three-goal cushion late in the period with his first tally since December 7.
Jim Dowd netted the lone tally for Minnesota, which is winless in three games (0-2-1).
Making his NHL debut, Jarret Stoll fed Chimera in the neutral zone, sending the 23-year-old down the left wing. From the bottom of the faceoff circle, Chimera slipped a wrist shot between Kochan’s pads to give Edmonton a 1-0 lead.
“I saw an opening up the left side and just took off,” Chimera said. “Jarret made a great little saucer pass off the defenseman’s stick. It was a great way to get started and a great first point for Jarret Stoll.”
“Right after my first shift, I was OK,” Stoll said. “That was a big confidence booster. I didn’t think I was going to be nervous, but I was. It was a lot quicker, that’s for sure, but sometimes it can be a lot easier because everyone is so disciplined. If you just keep it simple and do your own job, you’ll be all right.”
Just over 12 minutes into the second period, defenseman Janne Niinimaa fired a slap shot from the left point that hit Chimera in front and went in. Cleary scored his first goal in 23 contests to increase the advantage.
Steve Staios forced a turnover on the left boards, causing the puck to bounce into the faceoff circle. In one motion, Cleary unleashed a turnaround shot that got by Kochan with 4:09 remaining in the period for a 3-0 lead.
Staios continued to exhibit his playmaking skills early in the third. From the right circle, the defenseman put the puck in front, where Cleary was denied by Kochan. But Horcoff gathered the rebound and swept it between the goalie’s pads at 2:42 to give the Oilers a commanding four-goal cushion.
“We could see at the start that our guys were looking for their legs,” Lemaire said. “We didn’t have a lot of speed. It’s too bad because even the other side, I felt, weren’t playing their best game, either. The guys, they tried, but the energy wasn’t there at all.”
Salo single-handedly ruined his bid for a shutout, committing a turnover that resulted in Dowd’s fifth goal.
While behind his own net, Salo tried to clear the puck around the boards. All-Star Marian Gaborik batted it out of mid-air, knocking it toward the right circle. As Andrew Brunette bumped Salo on the way to the crease, Dowd shot into an open net at 7:55.
Marchant capped the scoring with 98 seconds remaining, snapping Chimera’s cross-slot pass by Kochan from the right circle for his 10th goal.
“Anytime we wind up with five goals, it’s indicative that we capitalized on a high percentage of our chances,” MacTavish said. “Jason Chimera played terrifically with a couple goals and a helper, and Danny Cleary bounced back and had a very solid game tonight. Tommy played well enough to hide a lot of mistakes that we made, and it was good for him to have a game like that, too.”
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