The Red Wings entered Wednesday night’s game with a gaudy win/loss record against the Edmonton Oilers, claiming eight straight victories since Feb. 4, 2012.
Since losing to the Oilers in the first round of the 2006 Stanley Cup playoffs, the Wings have been dominant at Rexall Place, producing a 9-0-5 mark in their past 14 games in Edmonton.
However, the Red Wings started slow Wednesday. Through the first 20 minutes, Detroit outshot 11-5 by the Oilers, who have won their last two games after starting the season 0-4.
In what is becoming a disturbing early-season trend, the Red Wings picked up their third bench minor for too man men on the ice at 5:53 of the opening period. As he has done the previous two times, Teemu Pulkkinen served the two-minutes in the penalty box.
Detroit’s PK managed to thwart the Oilers’ first power play on opportunity, but not their second chance.
With 42 seconds left in Drew Miller’s holding penalty the Oilers struck for a 1-0 lead. Nail Yakupov made a pretty play, skating backward long the wall and deep into the offensive zone. The No 1 overall pick in 2012, Yakupov sent a centering pass to Mark Letestu who was camped in the low slot where he managed to get his stick blade on the puck to redirect it behind Petr Mrazek.
The Red Wings had two power play chances in the period, but only generated one good scoring chance when Henrik Zetterberg rifled a rising shot that Oilers goalie Cam Talbot gloved.
EDMONTON 1, DETROIT 0
SCORING: 1, EDM, Letestu PPG (Yakupov, Schultz),
PENALTIES: 1, DET, Pulkkinen (too many men), 5:53; 2, EDM, Gryba (interference), 8:36); 3, DET, Miller (holding), 11:14; 4, EDM, Hall (tripping), 16:13.
SHOTS: Detroit 5, Edmonton 11
Connor McDavid, the Oilers’ fourth No. 1 overall draft pick since 2010, was relatively quiet in the opening period. He logged 4:48 of ice time, including 1:16 on the power play, without firing a shot.
But the 18-year-old from Richmond Hills, Ontario more than made up for it in the second period, dazzling the home crowd during back-to-back shifts.
First the youngster set up Letestu for what should have been the veteran’s second goal since joining the Oilers as a free-agent signing this past offseason.
Letestu’s scoring chance was made possible by McDavid, who picked Gustav Nyquist’s pocket clean as the Red Wings’ forward tried pushing the puck up ice. Quicky, McDavid created a scoring chance, threading a pass to Letestu who send a shot of the outside of the net to the left of Mrazek.
On his next shift, McDavid brought the sold-out crowd to its feet while sending the Red Wings’ goalie to his knees. Cruising down the middle of the ice, McDavid made an incredible deke, going right then pulling the puck back to his left leaving Mrazek with no chance to recover.
McDavid’s first goal at home, at 6:34 of the period, gave the Oilers a 2-0 lead.
A half minute later the home team built a three-goal cushion when Teddy Purcell was eventually credited with his first goal of the season when the puck caromed off a skate in front of Mrazek.
Purcell’s initial shot kicked off Mrazek’s right pad and into the slot where the puck glanced off Kyle Quincey’s left skate as the Red Wings’ defenseman backchecked
Drew Miller had the Wings’ best scoring chance in the period, racing in on Talbot midway through the frame, but his shot slid through the goalie’s pads and into the corner.
EDMONTON 3, DETROIT 0
SCORING: 1. EDM, McDavid (Pouliot, Yakupov), 6:34; 2. Purcell (Korpikoski, Fayne), 7:04.
PENALTIES: 1. EDM, Korpikoski (holding), 0:48; 2. DET, Green (tripping), 2:56; 3. EDM, Slepyshev (too many men), 4:09.
SHOTS: Detroit 11 (16), Edmonton 10 (21).
Puck possession and a face-off win in the defensive zone led to the Red Wings first goal of the game. Riley Sheahan beat Ryan Nugent-Hopkins on the draw to the left of Mrazek.
From there, the Wings rushed the puck of the ice, setting up Nyquist’s shot from the left wing. The Wings got a fortunate bounce as the Talbot kicked a rebound out to Tomas Tatar who was crashing the net from the opposite side as Nyquist.
Tatar lifted a backhand shot over Talbot’s left catching glove at 6:49 of the final period. The goal was Tatar’s first of the season.
Detroit had a couple of chances late to trim their deficit.
With less than five minutes left in regulation, the Wings had a chance to trim their deficit to one goal. But Justin Abdelkader grazed the outside of the right post under Talbot’s blocker.
The Wings’ power play went to work after Purcell was called for tripping Darren Helm with 3:13 left. Immediately, coach Jeff Blashill lifted Mrazek in favor of a sixth attacked.
Even after the Oilers successfully killed off the Purcell penalty, the Wings kept Mrazek on the bench.
Jimmy Howard will get the start Friday in Calgary, his fourth of the season, as the Red Wings continue their three-game road trip through Western Canada. Mrazek is expected to get his next start when the Red Wings play the Canucks at Vancouver’s Rogers Arena on Saturday night.
The Wings and Oilers will conclude their two-game season series in Detroit on Nov. 27.
EDMONTON 3, DETROIT 1
SCORING: 1. DET, Tatar (Nyquist), 6:49.
PENALTIES: 1. EDM, Klinkhammer (delay of game), 1:27; 2. EDM, Purcell (tripping (16:47).
SHOTS: Detroit 13 (29), Edmonton 6 (28).