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Oilers take second crack at knocking off Red Wings

by Brian Hunter
OILERS (4-7-2) at RED WINGS (9-3-1)


Last 10:
Edmonton 2-6-2; Detroit 7-3-0

Season Series:
These teams meet for the second time in seven days, with the Red Wings drawing first blood in the season series by picking up a 3-1 road win over the Oilers on Nov. 5 behind an empty-net goal and 2 assists from Danny Cleary. Jimmy Howard (29 saves) outdueled Nikolai Khabibulin (27 saves).

Big Story: Not much escapes the notice of Detroit coach Mike Babcock, who is undoubtedly aware that while Edmonton has the fewest points in the Western Conference, the young Oilers have also won twice this season in the home building of defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago, the Wings' Central Division rival. Despite its record, this isn't a team to be taken lightly.

Team Scope:

Oilers: Like many organizations that go through a rebuilding process, it's been one step forward, two steps back for Edmonton this season. Following a 2-0-0 start, the Oilers lost their next six games. They won in Chicago for the first time, then returned home and lost consecutive games. They won in Chicago for a second time on Sunday, but followed that up by getting blasted 7-1 in Carolina on Tuesday.

"We didn't win the Stanley Cup when we beat Chicago. We just beat a hockey team. That's what we're supposed to do,” coach Tom Renney told the Edmonton Journal.

"The bottom line is you can't sit back and get fat just because you got a win. You work even harder because, if you're going to get any momentum in this League, it's got to come from winning.

"We have to make sure can recover so we can at least make ourselves respectable in Detroit."

Red Wings:
A six-game homestand for Detroit got off to a positive start Monday when Henrik Zetterberg tipped in a Ruslan Salei shot in overtime to give the Red Wings a 3-2 win over the Coyotes. They entered the third period down one, but Nicklas Lidstrom continued his tremendous start by scoring the game-tying goal. Jimmy Howard, whose streak of 22 straight games dating back to last season without a regulation loss ended Saturday in Vancouver, bounced back to make 29 saves.

"Bert [Todd Bertuzzi] made a good pass to Rusty and he really held onto the puck, so I had a chance to get to the side of the net," Zetterberg said of the winning goal. "He made a good shot pass, I just put the stick there and it went in."

Who's Hot: Dustin Penner scored his team-leading fifth goal in the Oilers' loss to the Hurricanes. … Lidstrom (2-10-12) and Pavel Datsyuk (4-8-12) have nine-game points streaks for the Red Wings. Cleary (3-4-7) has a five-game points streak.

Injury Report: Edmonton captain Shawn Horcoff missed Tuesday's game with a lower-body injury. Forward Jean-Francois Jacques is on injured reserve recovering from back surgery. … Detroit goalie Chris Osgood is day-to-day with a groin injury. Forward Kris Draper is on injured reserve recovering from sports hernia surgery.

Stat Pack: The Oilers have been outscored 21-10 in the first period this season. … Red Wings defenseman Brian Rafalski picked up an assist and had two shots in 15:18 of ice time against the Coyotes after missing the previous 10 games following arthroscopic knee surgery. Rafalski has an assist in each of the three games he's played this season.

Puck Drop:
Taylor Hall, the No. 1 pick in the draft by Edmonton in June, is the centerpiece of the organization's plan for a brighter future, but he's not immune to growing pains either. Hall played just 8:47 in Tuesday's loss and was benched for almost the entire third period.

"I'm pretty sure I know what the message was," Hall told the Edmonton Journal. "It was completely justified. I can't blame him for not playing me in the third. I'll get another chance in a couple of nights and I have to do better."

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