The Detroit Red Wings continue to make sure Joe Louis Arena is a tough port of call for other National Hockey League teams this season.
The young Edmonton Oilers were the latest to learn there is no place like home for the veteran Red Wings, dropping a 3-0 decision on Thursday night.
Detroit is 9-4-2 at home, and only the Chicago Blackhawks (11-0-1) have more home wins this season. Edmonton is 4-6-3 on the road and has lost in each of its past seven visits Detroit. Overall, the Red Wings are 10-0-1 in their last 11 meetings with the Oilers.
Jakub Kindl and Cory Emmerton scored during a dominant second-period to put the Oilers on their heels. Justin Abdelkader added his first goal of the season into an empty net. Goalie Jimmy Howard, who spent long stretches without much activity, made 22 saves and was sharp on the few occasions Edmonton was able to breach the Detroit zone.
"It was a pretty complete game for us," coach Mike Babcock said. "We didn't give up very much. Our goaltender was under way less stress than he was the other night [in a 2-1 win against Colorado], and it was a good win for us."
It's the second shutout of the season for Howard and the 13th of his career. He has allowed four goals in regulation in his past four starts.
"I think we're playing really well as a team right now. We're doing a lot of great things," Howard said. "When you work hard and you pay attention to detail, good things happen."
Detroit has been quite stingy during its current 4-1-1 run, allowing more than two goals one time in that stretch, an 8-3 victory against the Vancouver Canucks on Feb. 24. The Red Wings have allowed six goals in the past five games -- none of them in the first or second periods.
"Obviously in this last run we've had, I think with the exception of our last game, we've played really well," Babcock said. "We had all our lines on deck tonight. We're getting better on the back end and better all through the lineup. We have more guys contributing, and we seem to have more team depth."
With such defensive dominance -- Edmonton had 13 shots on goal in the first 40 minutes -- the two-goal outburst during a nine-minute stretch of the second period was enough to give Detroit some breathing room.
"You're not going to win games scoring zero goals, so that's on us," Oilers forward Taylor Hall said after Edmonton fell to 1-3-2 on its nine-game road trip.
Kindl opened the scoring 3:16 into the middle period when he pinched in a bit from the blue line to corral a puck in the high slot and let go off a shot through traffic. Oilers goalie Devan Dubnyk (26 saves) got a piece of the shot, but the puck managed to trickle across the goal line.
"On the 1-0 goal, we lose the battle in front of the puck. Two of our guys against Kindle and he puts it into the net and the game plan just disappeared," said Krueger.
That goal by Kindl, who has provided the game-winner both times he has scored this season, may have deflated the Oilers, but seemed to give life to the Red Wings, who had not generated much offense in the first period.
Emmerton capped a sustained period of pressure with a pretty goal, coming off the bench on a player change to take the Oilers defense by surprise. Drew Miller, circling along the end boards as the rest of his line changed, picked up Emmerton as he steamed into the slot and hit the forward with a perfect pass for a quick-release shot that totally flummoxed Dubnyk.
"We would have liked to have seen maybe a power play or two in the game but when you look at the whole picture here, there's no excuses for this one," Krueger said. "We cannot stop playing for 10 minutes against the Detroit Red Wings and expect to get points and that's what happened here."
To make matters worse for the Oilers, they were forced to play part of the game without Ales Hemsky, who injured himself blocking a shot just six minutes into the second period.
"He's been x-rayed. It's not broken," Krueger said. "We're probably dealing with a day-to-day bruise of some sort here. There's no saying how he's going to feel on this tomorrow. We have to ice it through the night and treat it and we hope that there's a shot still but it's going to be difficult for him in Nashville."
With eight of their next 10 games away from home, holding serve at home was vital to the Wings' playoff hopes.
"We're 5-1-1 in the last seven and it feels like we haven't moved at all," Emmerton said. "One day we're in fourth and the next day we're in 10th, so every game is huge."
Material from team media was used in this report
Congrats to Abby on first goal of the season! @detroitredwings— Pavel Datsyuk (@Datsyuk13) March 8, 2013
|Taylor Hall Hooking against Daniel Cleary|
|Mike Brown Fighting (maj) against Jordin Tootoo|
|Jordin Tootoo Fighting (maj) against Mike Brown|