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Red Wings seek first win of season against Oilers

by Eric Goodman
OILERS (24-44-7) at RED WINGS (39-23-13)

Last 10 -- Edmonton 3-6-1; Detroit 8-1-1

Season series --
These two clubs will wrap up their four-game season series with the League's last-place Oilers having won the previous three contests: two in the shootout at home and a 4-1 victory on Dec. 3 at Joe Louis Arena.

Big story --
Just a week ago, the Red Wings appeared in danger of missing the playoffs for the first time since the 1989-90 season, but a five-game winning streak now has Detroit gunning for the fifth seed in the Western Conference. Also, with seven games still remaining on their schedule, the Wings (91 points) have an outside shot of overtaking the Chicago Blackhawks (99 points) for the Central Division title.

Team Scope:

Oilers --
Losers of seven of its last 10 games, Edmonton is now guaranteed to finish in last place of the entire NHL this season and would need to amass six points over its final seven games to avoid the worst finish in franchise history. The Oilers will continue on their four-game road trip Tuesday having lost the first game, 2-1 at St. Louis on Sunday. Edmonton has currently lost seven in a row on the road, all during this month, and Tuesday's visit to Detroit remains as the final away game in March.

Red Wings -- There is a good reason why they call Detroit "Hockeytown" as the Wings can be counted on as one of a handful of clubs in the League to pretty much be a lock for the playoffs every season. While injuries and a slow start gave some Motor City residents a bit of a scare, the Original Six powerhouse appears destined to make yet another return to the postseason.

A 6-2 victory over Minnesota this past Friday gave Detroit its fifth straight win at the Joe and solidified its standing as one of the hottest teams since the Olympic break. The Wings are 10-2-1 since the League returned from a two-week hiatus at the beginning of this month.

Who’s hot --
Rookie goalie Devan Dubnyk has won two of his last three starts, with a 1.66 goals-against average over that span for Edmonton. Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard is 8-1-1 with a 1.70 GAA over his last 10 games, including a 1-0 shutout victory over Nashville in the shootout this past Saturday.

Injury report --
Sam Gagner (hip) is still listed as day-to-day for the Oilers. … Right wing Kirk Maltby (shoulder surgery) is expected to be the only Red Wing out of action on Tuesday.

Stat pack -- The Oilers are in last place in the Western Conference in both goals-against per game (3.33) and goals-for per game (2.44) this season.

Puck drop -- Seeing the Oilers on the schedule should make most teams confident that they can grab an easy win, but it's important that the Wings don't get ahead of themselves. About a week ago, Edmonton won three straight over Detroit, San Jose and Vancouver, all of which are playoff contenders. If Detroit treats Edmonton as a team that is also trying to make the postseason, then it might avoid another surprise loss at the hands of the League’s worst team.

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