RED WINGS (7-2-1) at OILERS (3-5-2)
TV: FS-D+ (HD), SNET-EDM (HD)
This is the first of four meetings. Shockingly, the Oilers took three of four from the Red Wings last season despite finishing with 40 fewer points.
The Red Wings are getting healthy and hitting their stride, having won five of six thanks to return of forwards Johan Franzen
and Justin Abdelkader
and goaltender Jimmy Howard
during the stretch. Meanwhile, the Oilers look like they could be facing another long season. They've lost seven of eight since a 2-0 start.
Red Wings: Justin Abdelkader
missed the first eight games of the season but made his presence felt against the Flames on Wednesday. He scored the game-winner in the second period as the Red Wings emerged with a 2-1 victory.
"It feels great," Abdelkader said. "I think our line (featuring Mike Modano and Dan Cleary) can be successful when we can hang onto pucks, cycle down low [and] bring it to the net. It's going to open up a lot of things."
If not for a terrible start at home against the Vancouver Canucks, the Oilers might be looking for their third straight win Friday.
But a 3-0 hole was too deep, as the Oilers fought back just to lose 4-3.
"It was like Yin and Yang out there, two different teams," said Ryan Jones
, at a loss to explain the defeat to the Edmonton Sun. "It's like we have extreme highs and extreme lows. We continually do this, show spurts of being a great hockey team but also show periods of being the team we are right now, bottom of the standings.
"When we can put 60 minutes together we're going to be a dangerous team."
Red Wings star Pavel Datsyuk
has points in six straight games (4 goals, 4 assists). … Oilers rookie Jordan Eberle
has 3 goals and 3 assists in his last seven games.
Red Wings defenseman Brian Rafalski
(knee) could return next week. Goaltender Chris Osgood is nursing a sore groin. … Oilers left wing Steve McIntyre is out with a sore back.
The Red Wings have scored at least one power-play goal in eight of 10 games this season. … The Oilers haven't lost at home to the Red Wings since March 24, 2009.
"Well, he's better than everybody. I mean, he's just flat-out better. He slides better, he thinks better, he shoots better. There are some young guys coming, but Nick is 40 years old and is one of the best players in the game, still. He's brilliant, that's all." -- Red Wings coach Mike Babcock, on Nicklas Lidstrom