ST. PAUL, Minn. – Even the best defencemen in this most unpredictable sport can’t count on scoring, no matter how strong the performance.
Ryan Suter, for once, was rewarded.
Charlie Coyle scored for Minnesota midway through the third period, 43 seconds after Suter’s second goal of the game thwarted Edmonton’s rally, and the Wild hung on to beat the Oilers 4-3 on Tuesday night.
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Suter, who had only two goals last season, matched defenceman Marco Scandella by scoring in the first period for a 2-0 lead. This was Suter’s first multi-goal game since a hat trick on Jan. 4, 2014, against Washington.
“I hit three posts in the first three games, I think, and now two goals tonight,” Suter said. “Who knows? Maybe I’ll probably go another 10 games without even getting a shot now.”
Darnell Nurse scored his first NHL goal soon after the second intermission, giving the Oilers the lead, but the Wild roared back against goalie Cam Talbot. Suter knocked in a loose puck from the crease, a “lucky bounce” as he put it. Then Coyle crashed the net and tapped in the setup from Thomas Vanek, who had two assists.
“You could feel the air come out of the bench at that point,” Oilers coach Todd McLellan said, adding: “It’s happened too many times in too many of our losses this year where we gift a team a goal or two, and right now we’re not a strong enough team to be doing that.”
Suter’s career high is eight goals, in 2006-07 for Nashville and 2013-14 for Minnesota.
“There’s been a lot of pucks that I feel he’s been unlucky not to score on, just because we’ve had good net front and the pucks are getting through,” Wild coach Mike Yeo said.
Taylor Hall had a goal and an assist for the Oilers, who added 18-year-old Connor McDavid to a lineup that now has four of the last six players taken with the first overall pick in the draft. They were stinging from a 3-2 loss to Los Angeles on Sunday when McDavid’s apparent last-second goal was waved off, so this outcome sure didn’t help.
“That’s a tough one to lose,” Hall said.
“You’re winning in the third period on the road. Those have to translate into wins.”
Hall scored, assisted by fellow former first overall draft picks Nail Yakupov and McDavid, in the first period to get the Oilers going. Then Iiro Pakarinen tied the game with a shot that grazed Wild defenceman Matthew Dumba’s knee and eluded Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk.
“The second goal was a kick in the ‘whatever’ for us,” Yeo said, “but it was a good opportunity for us. That’s a much better team than they have been in the past. There’s a lot of skill.”
Dumba used his shoulder to levy an open-ice blindside hit on Lauri Korpikoski in the first period, angering the Oilers and drawing a roughing penalty on Eric Gryba. With the Wild on the power play, Scandella scored off a smooth give-and-go with Vanek for a 2-0 lead.
“I thought it was contact to the head,” McLellan said. “I asked, and he thought it was a clean hit. There’s nothing I can do about that.”
Dubnyk, bothered recently by a knee injury, made 22 saves against the team that drafted him in the first round in 2004.
©2015The Associated Press