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Young Oilers look to return to win column

by Brian Hunter

OILERS (4-3-3) at RED WINGS (5-4-1)

TV: CBC, FS-Detroit

Season series: It's the first of three meetings between the teams this season. Detroit prevailed in three of their four meetings last season, with Drew Miller scoring four of his 14 goals against Edmonton. Sam Gagner had four goals to pace the Oilers in the series.

Big story: With an odd number of Canadian teams after Winnipeg's return to the NHL a season ago, Edmonton is the one out of seven that ends up facing a U.S.-based opponent on Hockey Day In Canada. The Oilers and Red Wings have developed a decent rivalry over the years, though -- it's hard to forget the upset eighth-seeded Edmonton pulled on Detroit in 2006 en route to the franchise's most recent trip to the Stanley Cup Final.

Team Scope:

Oilers: In his first season behind the Edmonton bench, coach Ralph Krueger has seen his young group battle hard in almost every game. Although they enter Saturday on a four-game winless streak, the points earned from the overtime/shootout losses kept them in the playoff race. Hosting the Stars on Wednesday, they got a goal and an assist from Ales Hemsky and took the game into overtime before yielding the record 17th career overtime goal by Jaromir Jagr in a tough 3-2 setback.

"It wasn't the greatest effort from us," defenseman Justin Schultz, whose power-play goal in the third period helped earn the Oilers a point, said. "We found a way to come back in the third period, but we needed to find a way to win it."

Red Wings: The expectation is workhorse Jimmy Howard will be back in net for Detroit, but coach Mike Babcock finally was able to get him a night off Thursday in St. Louis, and he had to be heartened by the response he got from rookie Petr Mrazek. In his NHL debut, the 20-year-old stopped 26 shots and led the Red Wings to a relatively easy 5-1 win against the St. Louis Blues. Five different Wings scored goals and 11 had at least one point. Cory Emmerton finished with a goal and an assist.

"The thing I liked about the kid was that he didn't generate second chances for them," Babcock said of Mrazek. "The puck wasn't coming off. He was soft and under control. Good for the kid. It's not an easy League to play in and St. Louis is a real good team. I thought our guys played hard and battled hard and in the end got a real big win."

Who's hot: Gagner had an assist Tuesday to extend his points streak to start the season to 10 games (3-8-11). Hemsky has two goals and two assists during a three-game points streak. … Red Wings rookie Damien Brunner scored his fifth goal in 10 games Thursday.

Injury report: Edmonton forwards Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (shoulder), Darcy Hordichuk (facial laceration) and Anton Lander (foot), as well as defenseman Mark Fistric (back) all are day-to-day. Forwards Ryan Jones (eye), Ben Eager (concussion), Eric Belanger (foot) and Shawn Horcoff (hand), as well as defensemen Andy Sutton (knee) and Theo Peckham (hip) are on injured reserve. … Detroit goalies Joey MacDonald (back) and Jonas Gustavsson (groin) remain out, along with defensemen Carlo Colaiacovo (shoulder) and Brendan Smith (shoulder) and forwards Jan Mursak (collarbone), Mikael Samuelsson (groin) and Darren Helm (back).

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