Back on home ice — where they’ve been unbeatable for three months — the Detroit Red Wings keep closing in on an NHL record.
Drew Miller and Henrik Zetterberg scored in the third period, and the Red Wings extended their home winning streak to 18 games with a 4-2 victory over the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday night. The Wings overcame two more goals by Edmonton’s Sam Gagner to move within two wins of the NHL record of 20 straight home victories, set by the Boston Bruins during the 1929-30 season and matched by Philadelphia in 1976.
The Bruins also won 19 in a row in Boston during the 1970-71 season.
”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.”
Detroit will either break the record or have its streak snapped on this homestand. Wednesday’s game was the first of six in a row at home for the Red Wings — following a five-game trip.
”People that don’t travel with us and just watch home games have no idea how hard it is to come back and what a grind it is,” Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. ”This game is always a tough one to win. We knew that coming in. We’re going to give our team a day off (Thursday). Ideally, we’ll be freshened up and ready to go by the next one.”
The Wings host Anaheim on Friday night. Detroit hasn’t lost at home since Nov. 3 against Calgary.
Johan Franzen and Cory Emmerton also scored for Detroit, but Gagner answered with a pair of goals to tie the game. He now has eight goals and six assists in four games.
After Gagner’s power-play goal made it 2-2 with 11:37 remaining, Miller scored his 11th of the season amid a scramble in front. After Justin Abdelkader’s shot from the slot was stopped by Nikolai Khabibulin, the Edmonton goalie appeared to think he had the puck frozen. However, it was behind him, sitting tantalizingly in the crease, and Miller was able to poke it in the net.
”It was one of those right place at the right time. We’ll definitely take it,” Miller said. ”I score some unnatural goals, I guess. That’s how I’ve always scored throughout my whole career, so it’s nothing new to me.”
Zetterberg added an insurance goal with 5:16 to play, beating Khabibulin from a tough angle to the goalie’s right.
Franzen opened the scoring on a power play, positioning himself in front of Khabibulin and redirecting Ian White’s shot from the point with 6:42 remaining in the first period. It was Franzen’s 21st goal of the season.
Emmerton made it 2-0 early in the second, scoring on a backhander from in front after Abdelkader tried to jam the puck past Khabibulin.
Detroit outshot the Oilers 20-9 through two periods, but led only 2-1 thanks to Gagner’s breakaway goal. It appeared Edmonton’s Ben Eager might fight Jonathan Ericsson in front of the benches, but when Gagner took a lead pass and cruised alone into the Detroit zone, Eager spun away to join his teammate on the rush.
Gagner’s had at least one point in five straight games, including his four-goal, four-assist effort against Chicago on Thursday. He scored again in the third period to tie the game and give himself 13 goals this season.
”Obviously, it feels good to produce,” Gagner said. ”It feels better to win.”
Joey MacDonald made 15 saves for Detroit, earning his first win of the season in only his third appearance. Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said regular starter Jimmy Howard (broken finger) is unlikely to be back this weekend.
NOTES: Edmonton coach Tom Renney was back behind the bench after missing Monday’s game at Toronto because he was struck in the head by a puck during a morning skate. The cut required stitches and left Renney with headaches. … Detroit is 21-2-1 at home this season. … Red Wings F Danny Cleary, who assisted on Emmerton’s goal, left the game in the second period because of an undisclosed lower body injury and didn’t return. … The Red Wings have two shootout wins during their home streak.