The Wings lost their first three games to the 30th-place Oilers and were looking at the possibility of losing all four games after blowing a 4-0 lead and seeing Edmonton tie the game midway through the third period.
But a goal by Brad Stuart on a deflection that had to be confirmed by video review put the Wings ahead with 67 seconds left, and Detroit held on to beat Edmonton 5-4 on Tuesday night.
So why are the Oilers, who assured themselves of finishing last in the overall standings with the loss, such a pain to the Wings?
"They've got a lot of young guys trying to prove themselves and want to stay on the team next year, so you can't count them out each game," forward Drew Miller said after Detroit's sixth consecutive victory. "They might be out of the playoffs but they're fighting for other things and they're trying to fight hard for a spot."
Oilers coach Pat Quinn had his own idea as to why Edmonton has done so well against the Wings.
"They're not really what you would call a physical team, so our guys know they're probably not going to get into a physical battle like against other teams," Oilers coach Pat Quinn said about his team's success against the Red Wings.
Stuart tipped Pavel Datsyuk's shot out of the air and past Jeff Deslauriers for his third goal of the season. The play went to video replay to check if Stuart played the puck with a high stick.
"I didn't know. I was pretty uncertain. As soon as it happened I wasn't sure it was going to go," Stuart said. "The thing we had going for us is they did call it a goal on the ice. You look at all the replays, it's tough to say one way or the other so the call has to stand, I guess."
Deslauriers didn't think it the goal should have counted.
"I'm 6-4 and I was jumping in the air," he said. "The last time I checked, the goal was four feet high. I can't do anything about that."
The wild ending in a game his team seemingly had locked away left Wings coach Mike Babcock shaking his head.
"It was one of those nights for us," Babcock said. "Obviously we had the game totally in control and when you stop playing a little bit and make some mistakes, suddenly the other team gets going. It's a real good lesson for us."
The victory kept the Wings in sixth place in the West. They are one point behind fifth-place Nashville with two games in hand, and one ahead of seventh-place Los Angeles.
Detroit led 3-0 after the first period on goals by Andreas Lilja, Niklas Kronwall and Miller. When Johan Franzen beat Deslauriers for a power-play goal at 16:31 of the second period, the crowd at Joe Louis Arena was already counting the two points.
"We played like deer in the headlights for the balance of the first period and much of the second," Quinn said. We didn't check from about the eight-minute mark on, we stood and watched. Our forwards were absolutely brutal for a lot of the game."
But Edmonton scored twice in 56 seconds to cut it to 4-2 at the second intermission.
Tom Gilbert's power-play goal put the Oilers on the scoreboard with 2:58 left in the middle period, and Mike Comrie then came down the left wing, faked a slap shot from the circle and slid a shot between Jimmy Howard's pads for his ninth goal.
Zach Stortini's wraparound made it 4-3 at 3:03 of the third period, and Gilbert tied it at 10:30 with his second of the game, a one-timer shot from the right circle for his fifth goal.
Material from wire services and team media was used in this report
|Andreas Lilja (1) ASST: Valtteri Filppula (24), Henrik Zetterberg (43)|
1 - 0 DET
|Niklas Kronwall (6) ASST: Johan Franzen (7), Tomas Holmstrom (15)|
2 - 0 DET
|Drew Miller (10) ASST: Jason Williams (8), Kris Draper (15)|
3 - 0 DET
|PPG - Johan Franzen (10) ASST: Tomas Holmstrom (16), Pavel Datsyuk (39)|
4 - 0 DET
|PPG - Gilbert Brule (17) ASST: Tom Gilbert (17), Mike Comrie (8)|
4 - 1 DET
|Mike Comrie (9) ASST: Marc-Antoine Pouliot (7), Aaron Johnson (5)|
4 - 2 DET
|Zack Stortini (4) ASST: Jason Strudwick (6), Shawn Horcoff (20)|
4 - 3 DET
|Tom Gilbert (4) ASST: Andrew Cogliano (15)|
4 - 4 Tie
|Brad Stuart (3) ASST: Pavel Datsyuk (40)|
5 - 4 DET
|Power Play %||18.8%||17.9%|
|% on Road||17.2%||21.2%|
|% at Home||20.0%||14.7%|
|Brad Stuart Cross checking against Mike Comrie|
|Andrew Cogliano Hi-sticking against Henrik Zetterberg|
|Marc-Antoine Pouliot Hooking against Patrick Eaves|
|Andrew Cogliano Roughing against Tomas Holmstrom|
|Valtteri Filppula Interference against Andrew Cogliano|
|Tomas Holmstrom Tripping against Tom Gilbert|
|Nicklas Lidstrom Tripping against Mike Comrie|