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Bouchard's three-point performance keeps Oilers streaking with 4-3 victory over Wild

Minnesota Wild's Jacob Middleton (5) and Edmonton Oilers' Connor McDavid (97) battle for the puck during second period NHL action in Edmonton on Friday December 8, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson Minnesota Wild's Jacob Middleton (5) and Edmonton Oilers' Connor McDavid (97) battle for the puck during second period NHL action in Edmonton on Friday December 8, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
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Evan Bouchard has been red hot from the blue line for the Edmonton Oilers of late.

Bouchard had two goals and an assist as the Oilers outlasted the Minnesota Wild for a 4-3 victory on Friday. His hot streak has helped Edmonton win six straight.

"The last two weeks, we’ve seen a lot of goals generated from his shot," said Oilers head coach Kris Knoblauch. "His (PP) shot was 97 miles an hour and that doesn’t hurt. It’s a skill. 

"There’s plenty of guys that can place a shot in the right position but not many can hammer it like that. There’s very few that can do both."

Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl each had a goal and an assist for the Oilers (11-12-1). Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had four assists

Stuart Skinner, who made 17 saves, is acutely aware of what Bouchard can do with the puck after countless hours of facing him in practice.

“The Bouch bomb, he does have a bomb. It is pretty incredible how hard he can shoot it,” he said. “I think he has got potentially the hardest shot in the NHL.”

Bouchard now has 27 points in 24 games this season.

Matthew Boldy, Joel Eriksson Ek and Connor Dewar replied for the Wild (9-12-4), who have lost back-to-back games.

“I didn't have any problem with the effort,” said Wild coach John Hynes. “I thought we were up against it coming into the game, and that's what the schedule is. 

"But I really liked the compete and the battle that we had."

Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 36 shots for Minnesota.

Edmonton controlled the play to start the game and was finally rewarded with the game’s first goal coming with 4:44 left in the opening period.

Nugent-Hopkins picked up his own rebound and threaded a pass through traffic to a pinching Bouchard, who beat Fleury for his sixth goal of the season and extended his career-best point scoring streak to 10 games.

Only new Oilers assistant coach Paul Coffey has had a longer points streak by a defender in team history.

The Wild had a better start to the second, however, getting two goals in the period's first 41 seconds. Just 15 seconds in, the rebound from an Eriksson Ek shot bounced around in the crease before Boldy directed it past Skinner.

Then, just 26 seconds later, Edmonton got caught flat-footed on an odd-man rush that saw Eriksson Ek rifle home a wicked one-timer for his 13th of the season.

Minnesota's lead only lasted 40 seconds as McDavid put on a show, cutting across the front of the crease and pulling Fleury way out of his net before tucking it in behind his prostrate body for his ninth to push his points streak to eight games.

The Wild made it 3-2 with eight minutes to play in the middle frame as Ryan Hartman sent a puck in front from behind the goal line to Dewar, who hammered a shot up high past Skinner.

The Oilers tied the game up again on the power play with 1:30 to play in the second as Nugent-Hopkins fed it to Draisaitl and he unleashed his patented one-timer for his 11th goal of the season and eighth on the PP.

Edmonton led 32-12 on the shot clock through 40 minutes.

The Oilers moved back in front with another power play goal coming just 1:32 into the third period as Bouchard sent a bomb from the point past Fleury for his second of the game.

Minnesota had several good opportunities late with their goalie pulled but Hartman hit a post and Skinner made a couple of huge stops to preserve the win.

“I think we battled the whole game through and it was a good finish,” Skinner said. “It was obviously a big two points.”

ON YOUR MARK — It was a special night in more ways than one for Oilers forward Mattias Janmark. Not only was it his 31st birthday, but he was also playing in his 500th game, becoming just the third player in NHL history to celebrate a birthday during the career milestone. Janmark was coming off a pretty impressive 499th game where he recorded a career-best three assists.

NOTES — Edmonton came into the game having outscored opponents 26-8 during their previous five games, all victories … Minnesota was without Zach Bogosian (upper body) … Wild defenceman Jonas Brodin left the game early in the third after taking a hit from behind into the boards by Evander Kane.

UP NEXT — Both teams return to action on Sunday. The Oilers host the New Jersey Devils in the third game of a six-game homestand. The Wild close out a four-game trip in Seattle against the Kraken.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 8, 2023.

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