The Detroit Red Wings took to the ice Saturday afternoon following their Thursday night win in St. Louis to take on the young Edmonton Oilers. The last time Detroit played Edmonton, it was a year and one day ago. The result was a 4-2 win at Joe Louis Arena.
The last time Edmonton defeated the Wings in Detroit was December 3rd, 2009, a 4-1 finish. The Oilers came into Detroit on a 4-game losing streak, but forward Sam Gagner was riding a 10 game point streak (3 Goals, 8 Assists).
The game was very close, but the Red Wings edged out the Oilers by a score of 2-1. All three goals came on the powerplay.
Special teams were the story of the night. Defenseman Niklas Kronwall said “I thought we did a pretty good job tonight [on the penalty kill] obviously we would’ve liked to have the other one back. I thought overall we did a pretty good job staying aggressive.”
After the game, coach Mike Babcock, said “I thought our penalty kill was outstanding. I thought our powerplay was good. It was a good win for us, a hard-fought win.”
Damien Brunner who assisted on the first goal of the game by Pavel Datsyuk said he “thought there was pretty good puck movement. We worked on it this week. I think it’s small steps. We’re not there where we want it, but I think it’s getting better.”
Nikolai Khabibulin started his first game since March 30th of last year and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins returned to the Oilers’ lineup as well. Meanwhile, Todd Bertuzzi was missing from the Red Wings’ lineup with a back injury, preventing him from playing this weekend’s double-header (including tomorrow’s afternoon game against the Los Angeles Kings). He joins Darren Helm (back), Brendan Smith (shoulder), Mikael Samuelsson (groin), Carlo Colaiacovo (shoulder), Jan Mursak (shoulder), and Jonas Gustavsson (groin) on the injured list.
The Red Wings started the game with speed and discipline. The only penalty came towards the end of the 1st period when Daniel Cleary was called for goaltender inference. The Wings outshot the Oilers 9-8 and both goalies looked really sharp, Howard after three days of rest, and Khabibulin after 10 and a half months of rest.
The Red Wings were called for Too Many Men on the Ice just 38 seconds into the 2nd period, giving Edmonton a 4 second 5-on-3. Pavel Datsyuk was sent out to take the faceoff. He won the faceoff and cleared the puck the length of the ice, and then worked his defensive magic, killing off most of the second powerplay chance as well. He even found himself a scoring chance as he attempted to wrist the puck past Khabibulin.
Not long after, Nail Yakupov received a penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct for complaining about an offsides call, and Ryan Smyth received a 10 minute misconduct as well. No goals came from the chance.
A 5-on-3 ensued for the struggling Detroit powerplay, which stood at 26th worst in the NHL (12%) and 15th in the NHL at home (22.2%) after Ryan Whitney was caught elbowing and Corey Potter lifted the puck into the crowd (1:32 later). Johan Franzen cleared a path for Damien Brunner, and Brunner found Pavel Datsyuk to give Detroit a 1-0 lead.
Justin Schultz tied the game up late in the second on a powerplay on a pass from Jordan Eberle, after Henrik Zetterberg hooked Jeff Petry.
Detroit dominated the faceoff circle in the 2nd period, winning 16/19 draws (84%). In total, the Wings led 24-10 going into the final third of the game.
In the final period Niklas Kronwall capitalized on another powerplay chance by blasting a shot from the point after a great feed from Datsyuk. The goal came at 6:08 and put the Red Wings in the lead 2-1. It was Kronwall’s 50th career goal.
As the final minutes of the game waned, Khabibulin was pulled for the extra attacker on an Edmonton powerplay. The Red Wing penalty kill was successful, and Detroit won the game 2-1.
The ‘Bulin Wall’ had 28 saves on 30 shots, and was the game’s second star. “He’s playing well, said Zetterberg following the win. We’ve been playing against him many times. He’s always good when we play against him. He has a lot of patience in his game still.
Kronwall also commented on the Oilers’ game: “[They have] a lot of speed, a lot of skill, and a lot of talent. They have the whole package. I thought it was a really good game.”
Next Game: Tomorrow at 12:30 ET – VS Los Angeles
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