Oilers-Red Wings Preview
A fortunate bounce helped the Detroit Red Wings extend a successful stretch, but they haven't needed too much luck in recent matchups with Edmonton.
The Red Wings will try to continue their dominance over the slumping Oilers in Thursday night's finale of a three-game homestand.
Detroit (11-8-4) is 4-1-1 since Feb. 23, and benefited from Niklas Kronwall's unusual goal for a 2-1 victory over Colorado on Tuesday. Late in the second period, the defenseman's shot from the blue line ricocheted off the boards then off Avalanche goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere's right skate into the net.
"I couldn't really find a lane through to the net, so I tried to get it somewhat close," Kronwall said. "That was a first."
Jimmy Howard did the rest, stopping 36 shots to improve to 3-1-1 with a 1.38 goals-against average in his last five games. He started this season 6-6-2 with a 3.08 GAA.
"It's going to be like this all the way down to the stretch There are going to be tight games, but we found a way to get the two points," captain Henrik Zetterberg said. "We're happy with the way we've been playing. We've been doing a lot of good things. We've just got to keep going."
The Red Wings will try to add to their momentum by earning a seventh consecutive home win over the Oilers (8-9-5). Detroit is 9-0-1 in the last 10 overall matchups, including a 2-1 victory at Joe Louis Arena on Feb. 9 - the season's only prior meeting.
Kronwall had the tiebreaking power-play goal in the third period and Howard stopped 23 shots for his seventh consecutive win over Edmonton. He's posted a 1.16 GAA in the past six matchups.
The Oilers, meanwhile, have given up a combined 11 goals in their 0-2-1 start to this month. Edmonton earned that lone point Tuesday in a 4-3 shootout loss to Columbus, the fifth of a franchise-high nine consecutive road games.
"We're still working on some things. It's good to get a point but we certainly need two right now," said goaltender Devan Dubnyk, who is 1-4-1 with a 3.48 GAA in his last seven starts. "We battled in the third and we had some chances to win the game. That's important."
The Oilers are 1-2-2 on their lengthy trip, which ends in Colorado on March 12, and will seek their first win in Detroit since Dec. 3, 2009. The Red Wings are 22-2-4 in the last 28 regular-season meetings at Joe Louis.
"We have to win the next game. It seems like (the season) is starting to wind down and Detroit's a really good team," defenseman Ryan Whitney said. "It's a really good test. We're going to have to play better."
Zetterberg had two of his team-high 19 assists against the Oilers last month, giving him 27 points in his last 24 matchups (eight goals, 19 assists).
Edmonton's Sam Gagner, who has seven goals and a team-high 21 points, has been one of his team's few bright spots in the last three games against the Red Wings, totaling four goals and an assist.