Oilers break out in win over Red Wings
DETROIT — The blueprint that will get the Detroit Red Wings back into the playoffs looks nothing at all like what the team implemented the past two games.
For the second straight game, the Wings faced a team that played the night before and had been beaten handily. And for the second straight game, the Wings came up short.
The Edmonton Oilers drubbed Detroit 6-2 on Wednesday.
Darnell Nurse, Patrick Maroon, Jujhar Khaira, Mark Letestu, Drake Caggiula and Jesse Puljujarvi scored for the Oilers (8-12-2), who ended a three-game losing streak.
Tomas Tatar and Niklas Kronwall scored for the Wings (10-9-3).
Snapping a 2-2 tie at the first intermission with four unanswered goals, the Oilers grew stronger as the game went on, while the rested Wings were the ones who withered.
“I know one thing for certain, we better never use back-to-backs as an excuse for the rest of the year,” Detroit coach Jeff Blashill said. “I know that for certain because we haven’t taken care of business the other way.”
The Wings finished 2-1-2 on a five-game homestand, and all three losses came against teams that played the previous night.
Detroit captain Henrik Zetterberg didn’t pull any punches when assessing his team’s performance.
“It’s a little bit of stupidity and wanting to do too much,” Zetterberg said. “We know that when we are playing with speed, most of the time we’re putting the puck behind them and getting through the neutral zone.
“When we don’t do that, we’re not a fast team and we’re easier to play against.”
Tatar gave Detroit the lead with a power-play goal 7:25 into the game, but Nurse and Maroon tallied to put the Oilers in front. Late in the opening period, Kronwall tied it on a fluke goal. He threw the puck toward the Edmonton net from the side boards and it banked off Oilers forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins past goalie Cam Talbot (20 saves) into the net.
After Edmonton surrendered 18 goals in three lopsided losses, including an 8-3 setback Tuesday at St. Louis, that could have been the signal for the Oilers to fold. Instead, they found fortitude and followed with their best period in a long time, limiting the Wings to three shots while scoring three goals to take control of the game.
“If this was a team looking to quit, that would have been the moment,” Letestu said. “We get the lead and then give up a fluky goal, but we didn’t let it deter us.
“We kept going after it and had a big second period. That shows the character in this room.”
The Oilers reclaimed the lead 10:24 into the second period when Khaira snapped a low wrist shot past Howard (15 saves).
Howard’s night ended at 14:22 of the middle period when he failed to control the rebound of a low slap shot by Mike Cammalleri, and Letestu drove the rebound into the net. Petr Mrazek (seven saves) took over in the Detroit net.
The second shot faced by Mrazek also ended up in the net when Caggiula converted a drop pass from Connor McDavid at 18:16.
Puljujarvi’s tally at 18:55 of the third period completed the scoring.
In their previous game on Sunday, the Wings squandered a 3-1 third-period lead and lost 4-3 in overtime to Colorado. The Avalanche came to Detroit off a 5-2 loss to Nashville on Saturday, but like the Oilers, were the team that grew stronger as the game continued.
“We’ll obviously go back and take a look at this game and take a look in the mirror and see what we can do better,” Howard said. “When we play with structure and we play as a five-man unit, we’re a very fast team. We’ve gotten away from that the last two games.”
NOTES: The next point for Red Wings C Frans Nielsen will be his 400th in the NHL. ... C Henrik Zetterberg’s next point will move him into a tie for sixth with Pavel Datsyuk on Detroit’s all-time scoring list at 918 points. ... Wings LW Tomas Tatar’s next assist will be his 100th in the NHL. ... D/RW Luke Witkowski (NHL suspension), RW Martin Frk (groin) and LW David Booth were scratched by the Wings. ... The Oilers’ scratches were D Ryan Stanton, D Eric Gryba and RW Iiro Pakarinen. ... Stanton was recalled earlier Wednesday from AHL Bakersfield. ... Edmonton C Brad Malone was assigned to Bakersfield. ... Oilers C Mark Letestu played his 500th NHL game. ... The Oilers are 2-7-3 in their past 12 games at Detroit.