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Wings teach young Oilers some lessons in 3-1 win

by Robin Brownlee
EDMONTON -- The NHL's oldest team gave Edmonton's kiddie corps some schooling Friday night.

The Wings got 29 saves from Jimmy Howard and goals by Justin Abdelkader, Valtteri Filppula and Daniel Cleary in a methodical, professional 3-1 victory at Rexall Place.

While the Wings didn't embarrass or outclass the league's youngest roster, they did teach the rebuilding Oilers a lesson or two in winning for the sixth time in their last seven games -- and sending the Oilers to their fourth consecutive home loss.

"That is a good team," Oilers captain Shawn Horcoff said. "I guess this is the instance where you preach patience, but as players, we want to win.

"It's hard for us to look at the big picture and say, 'OK, well yeah, this is one of the best teams in the League. We were close, but we're just not there yet.' That doesn't really work for us. Everyone wants to win."

While the Oilers had their moments in the final 40 minutes, coach Tom Renney thought his team spent a little too much time playing the part of fastidious students early.

"I thought we played the first period as though we weren't sure we belonged on the same sheet as them," Renney said.

"That's dead wrong. Of course we do. We're an NHL team. We've got youth on our side. We've got what, I believe, are the right tactics for our team. We have to apply ourselves accordingly. There's a great saying: You can't steal second with a foot on first."

The Oilers, who fell behind 3-0 to the Vancouver Canucks on the way to a 4-3 loss Tuesday, didn't exactly bust out of the blocks against the Red Wings in the first 20 minutes.

They made it to the first intermission trailing just 1-0, but the score flattered them. The Red Wings outshot the Oilers 13-7 and out-chanced them by a wider margin, but got only Abdelkader's second goal, on the rebound of a Mike Modano shot at 1:45, to show for it.

"We needed to regroup after the first period and come back and remind our guys that they've got one under their belt and it's not a runaway and that we should be able to go out there and win the hockey game," Renney said.

Renney obviously got his message across between periods because the Oilers weren't nearly as content to let the Red Wings play keep-away with the puck in the second period. The hard work paid off just 5:26 in with the Oilers on a power play when rookie Taylor Hall snapped a loose puck high over a Howard for his third goal in the last four games to make it 1-1.

It stayed that way for just over three minutes, until the Red Wings went to work on Edmonton's 30th-ranked penalty killing as Filppula slipped a sharp-angle shot past Nikolai Khabibulin for a 2-1 lead and the eventual winner.

"I think they're going to be a really good team," Cleary said. "Any time you've got a lot of young players in your lineup experience can play a big factor late in games, protecting leads and things like that.

"I see that team being real competitive in a couple of years. Coming into a building like this with a young team that's really exuberant and high-flying, our goal was to try to slow down their speed. We know how to protect leads. We know how to win on the road."

Filppula's third of the season was the 11th goal Edmonton's 30th-ranked penalty killing has allowed in its last seven games.

Howard was the difference the rest of the way as he stopped all 14 shots the Oilers fired at him in the third period, including a pretty good chance by Hall with a couple of minutes to go.

Edmonton played without defenseman Ryan Whitney for 17 minutes in the second and third period when he was assessed an instigator penalty for going after Detroit's Brad Stuart. Whitney, who averages more minutes a game than any other Oiler, dropped the gloves with Stuart after he leveled Ales Hemsky.
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