EDMONTON - Jiri Hudler scored a pair of goals as the Detroit Red Wings won their fourth straight, edging the Edmonton Oilers 4-3 on Thursday night.
Pavel Datsyuk and Tomas Kopecky also tallied for the Wings, who improved to 13-2-3 and are 6-0-1 in their last seven outings. Andrew Cogliano, Lubomir Visnovsky and Sheldon Souray replied for the Oilers (9-9-2), losers of four of their last five.
It didn't take long for the defending Stanley Cup champs to get on the board as the Wings scored just 1:50 into the first period. Andreas Lilja's point shot was kicked aside by Oilers goaltender Dwayne Roloson before being gathered up and sent into the net by Hudler.
Detroit made it 2-0 just six minutes later on the power play as Datsyuk feathered a shot through traffic.
Just 2:11 later the Wings scored another marker with the man advantage, this time with Kopecky tipping in a Nicklas Lidstrom shot. Mathieu Garon came in to replace Roloson as the veteran goalie allowed three goals on 10 shots, even though Edmonton outshot Detroit 15-12 in the opening frame.
The Oilers finally got on the scoreboard with a power-play marker of their own with seven minutes remaining in the second. Robert Nilsson made a nifty behind-the-back pass to Cogliano and he snapped a shot past Detroit starter Chris Osgood.
But the Wings restored their three-goal edge on another power play with a minute and a half to play in the second, as a puck caromed high off the glass and came straight down to Hudler at the side of the net and he stuffed in his second of the contest.
Edmonton would make a game out of it, however, with a pair of goals just 19 seconds apart late in the third period. With a little over seven minutes to play Visonovsky took advantage of a scramble in front of the Detroit net, wiring a slap shot from in close with the teams playing four-aside. The Oilers received a power-play opportunity just seconds later and capitalized as Souray unleashed his patented bullet from the point for his seventh of the season to make it a one-goal game.
Edmonton yanked Garon for the final minute but couldn't get the equalizer.
The Red Wings play the second game of a three-game Western Canadian road swing on Saturday in Calgary. The Oilers are off until next Wednesday when they play host to the L.A. Kings.
Notes: Detroit was missing the services of forward Tomas Holmstrom due to back spasms suffered in the warm-up and defenceman Niklas Kronwall because of a sore ankle. ... Edmonton saw the return of defenceman Ladislav Smid from the injured list and opted to play him on left wing. ...The Red Wings have now netted 38 goals in 11 road games this year, second-most in the league. Only the Oilers, who have skated in a league-high 14 road games this year, have more with 39. ... Edmonton forward Shawn Horcoff became the 18th player in Oilers history to skate in 500 games on Thursday night.