Alex Galchenyuk was just happy to have an opportunity. Even if his new coach, Dean Evason, was too nervous to watch.
Galchenyuk scored the tying goal with less than five minutes left in regulation and then the winner in the fifth round of the shootout as the Minnesota Wild defeated the host Vancouver Canucks 4-3 Wednesday night, giving Evason his first victory as an NHL coach.
The Wild, entered Thursday five points out of a wild card in the Western Conference, look to continue their push toward a playoff spot when they play Friday night in Edmonton.
Evason, who took over as the interim coach when Bruce Boudreau was fired on Feb. 14, improved to 1-1-0.
“It’s amazing,” Evason said. “You hear things happen for a reason and all of those things. To have my three children here was awesome.”
Evason’s son was with the team as part of a fathers and mentors trip. His two daughters, who live in British Columbia, were also in attendance.
As Galchenyuk skated in on goal in the shootout, Evason admitted he turned away from the action.
“I knew where the kids were and all the dads and mentors,” he said. “I just looked up at my three kids sitting in the front and watched their reaction.
“All three of them jumped up in the air, so I knew we scored.”
It was nearly as momentous for Galchenyuk, acquired last week in a trade that sent Jason Zucker to Pittsburgh. He scored the tying goal with 4:45 left in regulation.
Galchenyuk played just five shifts, for a total of 3:02, in his final game with the Penguins on Feb. 8.
“The second I got traded here, I knew that I was going to have a great opportunity and got to stick with it, work hard and do the best I can to help the team win,” Galchenyuk said. “Happy I contributed (Wednesday).”
It was Galchenyuk’s first goal in four games with Minnesota.
“I think obviously getting the first one, it’s a weight off your shoulders,” Galchenyuk said. “But the win, the way we did it, was an extra special feeling, especially with the dads in the crowd. Can’t be better than that.”
The short-handed Oilers suffered a 2-1 overtime defeat at home to league-leading Boston on Wednesday.
Sam Gagner tallied the lone Edmonton goal on the power play early in the third period to tie the score at 1-1.
“It’s a valuable point for us, but what we want to learn from that game is we need some swagger early on,” Gagner said. “Making plays under pressure and having confidence with the puck in the first period (when the Oilers were outshot 10-2) would have set us up better. But we clawed our way to a point. There was a lot to like against a really good team.”
The Oilers played without Connor McDavid (quad injury), Joakim Nygard (hand), Kris Russell (concussion), James Neal (foot) and Oscar Klefbom (shoulder). They were also missing Zack Kassian because of a suspension.
“If you want to be a good team and make the playoffs, you have to have that depth,” Oilers defenseman Ethan Bear said. “Guys are stepping up and it’s good to see.”
–Field Level Media
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