Hockey

Wild too strong for Oilers

The Minnesota Wild prevented the Edmonton Oilers from gaining ground in the Western Conference playoff race Sunday after skating to a 4-1 win in St. Paul, Minn.

The Minnesota Wild prevented the Edmonton Oilers from gaining ground in the Western Conference playoff race Sunday after skating to a 4-1 win in St. Paul, Minn.

Pierre-Marc Bouchard scored a goal and added an assist, while Niklas Backstrom stopped 19 Edmonton shots to lead the Wild past the Oilers.

"We played some really good hockey and just have to build on our game," Edmonton goalie Roloson said. "Unfortunately, Niklas played really well for them, and we weren't able to capitalize on some chances."

Roloson stopped 23 of 26 shots, with Minnesota scoring an empty-net goal late.

The Oilers (30-27-6) currently sit in ninth place of the Western Conference, seven points behind eighth-place Calgary and nine points back of the seventh-place Wild.

Edmonton can still make up ground on the Wild as both teams meet four more times in the final 19 games.

The Oilers had come in to Sunday's game having gained points in their last three games (2-0-1).

"Our team is playing some of its best hockey of the year and we're not getting a lot to show for it," coach Craig MacTavish said. "The one thing I don't want to have happen is get a lot of frustration seep in and get a lot of negative energy and paralyze us further."

Fernando Pisani scored Edmonton's lone goal, the first for the 30-year-old winger since Jan. 31.

Pisani's goal at the seven-minute mark of the third period cut Minnesota's lead to 2-1.

However, Marian Gaborik answered back a minute later after converting on a 2-on-1 off a pass by Pavol Demitra for his sixth goal in seven games.

"I told the guys that we have to get back on top of them and get right back," Wild coach Jacques Lemaire said. "It's important to keep playing a goal ahead. You never know what might happen."

The Wild scored late in the first when Todd White took a pass from Bouchard and poked the puck past Roloson. Bouchard added the empty-net goal.

With Vancouver losing in overtime on Sunday,the Wild(35-23-5) trail the Canucks by just two points for the Northwest Division lead.

Edmonton, meanwhile, begins a four-game homestand Tuesday against Phoenix.

With files from the Associated Press