Red Wings eye fourth straight win in matchup with Oilers

Detroit is on a winning streak and someone besides Connor McDavid is making news for Edmonton as the Red Wings and Pistons meet Saturday at Little Caesars Arena.

The rebuilding Red Wings have won three in a row after starting the season 1-7-2.

“I think we’re just starting to play. We’re getting some bounces and we’re holding on to the puck a lot longer in the offensive zone,” Detroit defenseman Niklas Kronwall said after Thursday’s 4-3 home victory over the New Jersey Devils.

“All in all, we’re spending more time in the offensive zone. I think when you have control over the puck there and guys are holding on to it leads to confidence. I think that’s been a big plus here of late.”

Center Dylan Larkin, 22 and in his fourth season, has been Detroit’s best player this season with six goals and eight assists for 14 points in 13 games and been even better in the past three with two goals and five assists.

“He’s been tremendous for us this year,” Detroit goaltender Jimmy Howard said of Larkin. “He’s one of our best players night in and night out. He’s been flying, creating a lot of havoc in the offensive zone and been really responsible in the defensive zone. He has made so many great strides.”

Larkin has been going up against opponents top centers and top lines and is expected to play head-to-head against McDavid (nine goals and 19 points in 12 games) on Saturday night.

“We challenged him with playing against the othe” teamop lines in the last little bit and he loves that challenge. It just seems to bring out the best in him,” said Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill.

“I thought that a year ago, I thought that at the World Championships (Blashill coached Larkin on the U.S. team in May). And he’s certainly done that over the last number of games. He’s played against some great lines and he will again on Saturday.”

The Oilers (7-4-1) got 40 saves from backup goalie Mikko Koskinen in a 4-0 home win over the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday night.

“Honestly, I only care if we win or lose, so it feels good because we won,” Koskinen said. “That’s all that matters. We need points.”

He is 2-0-0 this season with a 1.51 goals-against average and .955 save percentage.

“Great for him, he’s been a good teammate the last month or month and a half,” Edmonton coach Todd McLellan said of Koskinen. “Guys want to play for him.”

The Oilers sent 19-year-old defenseman Evan Bouchard, their first-round pick (10th overall) in June’s NHL Draft, to his junior team, London of the Ontario Hockey League. Bouchard had a goal in seven games.

Edmonton also recalled defenseman Kevin Gravel from Bakersfield of the American Hockey League. Gravel, 26, had an assist in five games with Bakersfield and had no points in two games in an earlier stint with the Oilers this season.

Defenseman Danny DeKeyser is expected to return for Detroit Saturday night after missing eight games. The Red Wings will be without defenseman Jonathan Ericsson (unknown), center Frans Nielsen (unknown) and forwards Andreas Athanasiou (leg) and Thomas Vanek (lower body).