Helm scores in return; Wings blank Oilers
EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) –– Darren Helm was happy just being on the ice again. Scoring the winning goal was a bonus.
Helm scored in his first game of the season, and just his third since March 2012 due to various injuries, and the Detroit Red Wings won their third straight game in four nights by beating the Edmonton Oilers 5-0 on Saturday.
“It was the icing on top of the cake, really,” Helm said of his goal. “The relief came after the game, knowing that I could still play. The goal was just a nice addition to that. I was really excited.
“It was one of the nicest moments I have had in a while, since this injury bug started. I was pretty nervous. I was pretty anxious and eager to get out there.”
Red Wings coach Mike Babcock was pleased to see Helm back on the bench again.
“Helmer gives a huge dimension of talent that we can take advantage of if he is healthy,” he said. “He can be dominant. To see him do what he did tonight, I thought he played very well.”
Tomas Tatar, Jakub Kindl, Joakim Andersson and Todd Bertuzzi scored for the Red Wings (9-4-2), who are 3-1-2 in their last six games.
Petr Mrazek needed to make only 14 saves to earn his first NHL shutout in his third game.
“It’s a great moment for me right now,” the 21-year-old goalie said. “Sometimes seeing that few shots is harder than facing 30. I really had to be focused on every shot that I had.”
Mrazek also impressed his coach.
“That’s good for him,” Babcock said. “He’s a kid who, I told someone the other day, he thinks he is here to take (Jimmy) Howard’s job, not (Jonas) Gustavsson’s job.
“He’s just got that kind of attitude. He has won everywhere he has been, and there is obviously something to it.”
The Oilers (3-10-2) lost their fifth straight before they head out on a four-game trip. Edmonton has been shut out in its last two home games and outscored 9-0.
“It’s tough, it was embarrassing,” Oilers defenseman Ladislav Smid said. “I have no words for it and there is no excuses for us.
“People talk about injuries and back luck and stuff and we can’t talk about that anymore. We all have to wake up in here. I don’t think there is one person that can be proud of what he did on the ice.”
Detroit took a 2-0 lead on goals 27 seconds apart five minutes into the game.
An Edmonton miscue allowed Daniel Cleary to send Helm in on a breakaway, and Helm beat goalie Richard Bachman through the legs. The goal came in Helm’s first game of the season as he returned from a groin injury.
Less than 30 seconds later, Bachman allowed a big rebound on Andersson’s shot, and Tatar pounced on it for his third of the season.
Bachman injured a groin lunging for a puck with six minutes to play in the opening frame and had to be helped off the ice. Jason LaBarbera replaced him in the Edmonton net.
Detroit made it 3-0 seven minutes into the second period when Daniel Alfredsson dished the puck to Kindl at the top of the right circle for a hard shot that blew past LaBarbera.
The Red Wings outshot the Oilers 21-10 through the first 40 minutes.
Detroit went up by four goals eight minutes into the third. A wraparound attempt popped free in front of the net, and Andersson score his second of the season.
Two minutes later it was 5-0 as Henrik Zetterberg hooked behind the net on the power play and fed the puck to Bertuzzi at the back door. Bertuzzi’s 21 career goals against Edmonton are the most he has scored against a team.
“It’s frustrating, there is not much else to be said,” Oilers center Sam Gagner said. “Our compete level wasn’t high enough and we weren’t sharp to start the game.”
The Red Wings will wrap up a four-game Western Canada swing in Winnipeg on Monday. Edmonton will begin a four-game trip in Florida against the Panthers on Tuesday.
NOTES: The game was the first of two meetings between the teams this season. Detroit won all three meetings last season, when both clubs were in the Western Conference, and is 7-0-5 in its last 12 visits to Edmonton. … With Jonas Gustavsson out with a neck injury, the 21-year-old Mrazek got the third start of his NHL career. … Edmonton D Justin Schultz was out with a groin injury and forward David Perron missed his second game with a neck injury. D Philip Larsen made his Oilers debut, and F Ryan Hamilton returned for the first time since sustaining a knee injury on Oct. 7. … Red Wings forward Johan Franzen (illness) left Friday’s game at Calgary and sat out against the Oilers.