Drew Miller struck oil late in the third period by scoring the game-winning goal as the Detroit Red Wings beat the Edmonton Oilers 3-2 at Rexall Place. Jimmy Howard stopped 21 shots to become the first NHL goalie to reach 20 wins this season.
With the win on the road, the Red Wings have a .500 record away from the Joe Louis Arena at 8-8-0. Their home record is a sparkling 13-2-1, but they have to turn it up a notch on the road if they’re going to keep up with teams like the Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues, who have found new life since Ken Hitchcock came aboard.
The Red Wings got the scoring started early in the first when Jakub Kindl’s shot from the right circlet was tipped in by Danny Cleary, who scored his eighth goal of the season.
The Oilers tied it up early in the second when Sam Gagner found an open Ryan Jones, who went in alone and beat Howard through the five-hole for the 1-1 tie; but Jiri Hudler gave the Red Wings the lead with 4:24 left in the period as he tipped-in a Henrik Zetterberg shot. With less than a second left in the period, Jordan Eberle scored a power-play goal from the slot and tied the game at 2-2.
With 4:15 left in regulation, a Nicklas Lidstrom shot from the left point was redirected by Miller and gave the Red Wings the lead for good.
With players like Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk being on hot streaks as of late, Danny Cleary has followed suit. Over his last eight games, Cleary has scored four goals and five assists with a +10 during that span.
The best line of the night was the third line combination of Cleary, Drew Miller and Darren Helm. Whenever the top six forwards can’t produce, their role players step in and pick things up.
Even though they lost, Nikolai Khabibulin, who made 25 saves and kept the Oilers in the game.
Despite going 2-7-1 over their last 10 games, the Oilers didn’t play like their record indicated and they gave the Red Wings a run for the money. They are the best young team in the NHL and show a lot of promise with guys like Jordan Eberle, Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins leading the way.
Their scenario resembles the Quebec Nordiques of the late 1980s/early ’90s when they relied on the NHL Draft to get their young talent and put them out there to learn on the job. They could be headed for a Top 5 selection once again in next year’s draft and could probably use that pick on help from the blueline.
The Red Wings continue their west coast trip as they head to Vancouver to face the Canucks at the Rogers Arena on Wednesday night.
About the Author: Alex lives in Hockeytown, USA. He is a huge Red Wings fan going back to the 1985-86 season when they were dead last with 40 points. He has seen the transition from the 'Dead Wings' to one of the top franchises in sports. You can also follow him at twitter.com/alexmuscat73.