DETROIT – Jimmy Howard gets the start against the Edmonton Oilers, a team that he’s had very good success against throughout his NHL career.
Howard enters Friday’s home game at Joe Louis Arena with a 12-1-2 all-time record against the Oilers, winning the last 12 by a combined 41-18 score.
Despite getting points in five straight games (3-0-2) and firing more shots on net recently, third-period lapses is something the Wings would like to eliminate.
Coach Jeff Blashill addressed the topic with the team before today’s morning skate at Joe Louis Arena.
“We lost a lead late in St. Louis, we lost a lead late in Ottawa just recently and obviously (Wednesday) night,” Blashill said. “We talked about is there anything you could do different? I think that’s the thing you look at as a coach, not for the blame game but more for the correction process moving forward. I didn’t think we took our foot off the gas really in St. Louis. I didn’t think we did last game. I didn’t really think we did against Ottawa either. The biggest thing for us I think is we’ve got to get that next goal. We’ve got to make those games two-goal games. If we would have scored on some of our opportunities the other night I think the game would have been over. We’ve got to find a way to have that killer instinct when we do get in those situations. When you leave it a one-goal game, you leave it up to chance.”
The Wings have played five overtime games this month. In four of them they had the lead heading into the third period. Besides the loss to the Boston Bruins on Wednesday, the Wings won three of the OT games – at St. Louis (4-3), at Ottawa (4-3) and at Toronto (2-1).
The other OT loss was against Washington (Nov. 18) when the teams entered the third period in a 1-1 tie. The Capitals won, 2-1.
Henrik Zetterberg’s next goal will move the Wings’ captain into a sixth-place tie with Ulf Dahlen among Swedish-born NHL players.
Niklas Kronwall isn’t a big man. But the Red Wings defenseman has earned a living of delivering big hits throughout his career.
The first period Friday was his latest.
Kronwall tattooed Oilers center Mark Letestu bring the sold-out Joe Louis Arena to its feet at the 7-minute mark of the opening period. Kronwall’s hit send Letestu to the dressing room for observation and Matt Hendricks to the penalty box.
Kronwall does an outstanding job of anticipating chances to level bone-crushing body checks on unsuspecting opponents. Last April, in Game 6 of the playoff series against Tampa Bay, Kronwall hit Nikita Kucherov in a similar fashion earning the defenseman a suspension for Game 7.
Friday, Kronwall caught Letestu with his head down as the veteran center skated the puck out of the Oilers’ zone. With Letestu in a heap along the boards, Hendricks tried his hand at hockey justice, earning a two-minute roughing penalty.
The Red Wings’ power play ended early when Dylan Larkin was called for hooking at 8:35.
DETROIT 0, EDMONTON 0
PENALTIES: 1. EDM, Hendricks (roughing), 7:00; 2. DET, Larkin (hooking), 8:35; 3. EDM, Eberle (holding), 19:12.
SHOTS: Detroit 9, Edmonton 4.
The Red Wings went after Mike Green in the off-season for his offensive acumen. The veteran defenseman flashed his offensive abilities early in the period, which led to the Red Wings’ 1-0 lead.
With a head of steam, Green entered the zone, took a centering pass from Tomas Tatar and cruised straight toward the net where Gustav Nyquist was rewarded with his eighth goal of the campaign from a pile up in front of Oilers goalie Cam Talbot.
For Nyquist it was just his fourth even-strength goal of the season.
Detroit nearly had a two-goal edge with 10:06 left in the period. That’s when Jonathan Ericsson made a bid for his second goal of the season. Pavel Datsyuk won an o-zone draw to Ericsson, who unleashed a hard, rising shot from the blue line that clanked off the crossbar and into the stands.
The Wings did get their 2-0 lead when they caught the Oilers on a bad line change. It was Tatar and Nyquist combining again on the second goal of the period. Nyquist sent a cross-ice pass to Tatar, who whipped a wrist shot from the top of the left face-off circle.
The Oilers erased their deficit with a pair of goals by Iiro Pakarinen and Andrej Sekera just over three minutes apart.
Pakarinen’s goal was the Oilers’ second goal in three games. He was set up by Anton Lander – who was stationed near the goal line to the left of Howard – spotting the Finnish forward sliding into the low slot for the one-timer that beat the Wings goaltender.
Edmonton got the equalizer on Sekera’s power-play goal. The goal was made possible when the Red Wings’ penalty killers got trapped behind the net. Letestu exited a scrum with the puck and dished Sekera in the high slot for the shot.
Detroit regained the lead when Dylan Larkin scored his fifth goal in six games. Henrik Zetterberg spotted the rookie streaking down the left wing. Larkin then beat an Oilers’ defender to the net before slipping a backhand shot past Talbot for the 3-2 lead.
DETROIT 3, EDMONTON 2
SCORING: 1. DET. Nyquist (Green, Tatar), 5:11; 2. DET, Tatar (Nyquist, Ericsson), 12:07; 3. EDM, Pakarinen (Lander, Purcell), 15:17; 4. EDM, Sekera PPG (Letestu, Pouliot), 18:44; 5. DET, Larkin (Zetterberg), 19:24.
PENALTIES: 1. DET, Glendening (interference), 16:46.
SHOTS: Detroit 16 (25), Edmonton 11 (15).
Third-period woes continued for the Red Wings when the Oilers pulled even on the scoreboard after Pakarinen stole the puck in the o-zone and fired a quick shot from the left face-off circle that glanced off the bottom of Howard’s catching glove.
It looked like Tatar had the go-ahead goal late when he tipped Nyquist’s shot from the point. But the puck skipped to left of the near post.
Detroit has gone to overtime six times this month. Friday was the fifth time they went into the third period with the lead and lost it.
DETROIT 3, EDMONTON 3
SCORING: Pakarinen (unassisted), 8:45.
SHOTS: Detroit 6 (31), Edmonton 9 (24).
Kronwall gave the Wings a lift with a big first-period hit and finished by icing a win in overtime with his first goal of the season.
The Red Wings are now 5-3 in overtime while earning points in six straight games (4-0-2) since Nov. 16.
DETROIT 4, EDMONTON 3
SCORING: 1. DET, Kronwall (Larkin, Zetterberg), 0:26
SHOTS: Detroit 1 (32), Edmonton 0 (24).