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Miller strikes again with game-winner

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings
Drew Miller taps home the game-winner, his third of the season, helping the Red Wings to a 4-2 win over Edmonton Wednesday at Joe Louis Arena. (Photo by Dave Reginek)
DETROIT – Odds goals are kind of a specialty for Red Wings forward Drew Miller.

“Yeah, I score some unnatural goals, I guess,” Miller said. “That’s how I’ve always scored throughout my whole career, so it’s nothing new to me.”

The way he scored Wednesday may not have been new, but it certainly was timely.

“I thought (Darren Helm) put it in, so I was going to celebrate with him, but I saw it was laying there,” Miller said. “It was one of those right-place-at-the-right-time (goals). … We’ll definitely take it.”

Miller’s third-period goal restored the Wings’ lead and helped run their home win streak to 18 straight with a 4-2 victory over the Edmonton Oilers at Joe Louis Arena.

Playing with one less forward, the Wings regained their lead in the third period when Miller drove toward the net and was rewarded with his 11th goal of the season, which is a personal single-season high for the former Michigan State standout.

“That’s my record, I guess, so it’s pretty cool,” said Miller, who has four goals in the past five games. “Hopefully I keep going the rest of the season. I get an opportunity to play more minutes and play on the third line, so you hope to make the most of that. I’m trying to better myself each season, each game, and establish myself as an every night guy.”

While Miller is clearly taking advantage of his chances this season and the increased minutes with the absence of Patrick Eaves (broken jaw), he hasn’t lose sight of the importance that his linemates – Danny Cleary and Helm – have played.

“Yeah, that’s just trying to get around the net and I want to credit my linemates, too,” Miller said. “Cleary was out for the third period there, but he’s been playing great for our line, the same with Helmer who provides a lot of speed and gives us a chance, and Abby stepped in and played well in the third with us. Whoever is with us, we have chemistry and we all played well together.”

With Cleary out of the game after he re-aggravated his knee injury on a hit from Edmonton’s Ben Eager, the Wings’ forwards took turns double-shifting to cover the void on the third line’s right wing.

Justin Abdelkader, another product of the MSU hockey program, started the scoring play when his high shot from the low slot handcuffed Nikolai Khabibulin. With the puck resting in the crease behind the Oilers’ goalie, Helm took a swipe at the puck and missed. But hard-charging Miller didn’t as he raced through the slot and poked the puck across the goal line.

“The puck came along the boards, a little forechecking,” said Abdelkader, who had two assists. “I just tried to make a play. I felt I got a good shot off. It was loose just behind him.”

It was Miller’s third game-winner of the season and eighth of his career.

Wednesday’s game was the Wings’ first at home since prior to the All-Star game. They are now two wins away from tying the NHL record for consecutive home victories set by the 1929-30 Boston Bruins and matched by the 1976 Philadelphia Flyers.

The Wings haven’t lost at home since dropping a 4-1 decision to Calgary on Nov. 3.

“The home win streak is really unique,” Miller said. “I don’t think we go into it really trying to say, ‘Hey, let’s do it to get this streak.’ I think we’re just trying to establish our game at home and play night in and night out the way that we should play.”

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