Oilier Than Thou: Wings win race in fast-paced game against Edmonton

Winging It In Motown

The Red Wings welcomed the 9-1 Edmonton Oilers to Detroit for a Tuesday night tilt. Edmonton accepted the invitation with a goalie making his second career NHL start. It’s the league’s highest-scoring rookies versus the league’s highest-scoring…. older guys.

Blashill starts the game matching Larkin’s line against McDavid and Draisaitl with Sam Gagner taking Lucas Raymond’s spot temporarily as a celebration of his 900th NHL game.

The Wings come out with the first three shifts putting pressure on Skinner in the crease. The best of the chances going to Adam Erne and Givani Smith trying to jam a puck past a netfront scrum to no avail. I won’t say things necessarily settled from there because we ran with a high pace all the way to the first break. McDavid makes a cross-crease pass to Puljujarvi that Nedeljkovic has to slide across to stop. Moments later Fabbri is stoned by Skinner from inside the circle. It’s a fun pace if the Wings can hang.

Things continue apace for about eight minutes with a number of good shifts and counter-chances for the Oilers until just past the 14-minute mark when Sam Gagner receives a puck from an Oilers player in his own zone and springs Vladislav Namestnikov for a break into the zone where he dekes the goalie and pots it glove side.

It’s Namestnikov’s sixth of the season. 1-0 Wings.

In the immediate aftermath of the goal, the Oilers push hard to tie it only to be denied by Nedeljkovic.

Then the commercial break came and this happened

Totally underrated play out of that break is Adam Erne breaking his stick off a faceoff, wisely getting a new one and then getting back into position to block a shot from between the circles. Good job, Adam.

It doesn’t take terribly long for the Wings to settle and start turning the momentum back around to their favor. Edmonton is giving Detroit a lot of opportunities for catastrophic breakdowns in front of Nedeljkovic, but the line has been holding

The first period ends with the puck in our zone, but not our net.

Score: 1-0 Wings
Shots: 16-9 Wings
Stand Outs: Filip Hronek, Vlad Namestnikov, the entire Smith-Ras-Erne line, Seider, Suter, Bertuzzi
Sit Downs: Nah

First Intermission

I like that favorite moments answer, TBH.

The second starts with a pace similar to the first. The first great chance comes off a turnover forced by Fabbri that gets Zadina a turnaround shot from the slot that just goes Wide. Fabbri jumps on the rebound but Nurse gets his stick in to deny him.

Detroit gets the first power play of the game as Cody Ceci dumps the puck over the glass for delay-of-game and our beautiful sport gets safer.

The Wings spend a full minute getting the PP set up in the zone before they start pouring pressure on and nearly find the net on several occasions, but no avail as Ceci escapes unscathed.

Coming out of the first break of the period, the Wings gain the zone on a good physical play by Adam Erne to protect the puck around behind the net. Erne flips the puck over the net and it bounces out to the point for Filip Hronek who holds to allow traffic in front. Hronek’s shot hits Rasmussen in front and bounces to Vlad Namestnikov at the net-front for the easy put away.

2-0 Wings on Namestnikov’s 2nd of the night.

Detroit gets the next scoring chance after this, but Edmonton gets their first power play a couple minutes after the goal as Filip Hronek gets called for interfering with Connor McDavid (It’s a soft call).

Strong play by the PKers keeps Edmonton’s PP off the board for the next two minutes. Shout outs to Suter, Bertuzzi, Staal and Rasmussen for noticeably solid plays.

The Zadina-Suter-Fabbri line continues to forecheck very well in this period, creating turnovers that lead to dangerous chances. The latest one I’m talking about has Pius Suter denied by Skinner from the hash marks.

14:09 in and a harmless dump in gets misplayed by Edmtonton’s goalie trying to wrap around a pass behind his own net. The puck bounces back his way but Dylan Larkin is in on the forecheck to lift his stick and then deposit the puck into the open net to make it 3-0 Wings.

Detroit takes another penalty just shy of 15 minutes in. Rasmussen goes for tripping Draisaitl in the neutral zone. It’s an attempted sweep check that Leon skates through and gets his skate caught up on the stick.

McDavid burns in and tries to stuff short side on Ned early on the advantage. Edmonton gets a few more chances late but generally strong play again by the defenders keeps the dangerous lanes closed. Rasmussen out of the box nearly creates goal number four for Fabbri, but Skinner denies the doorstep chance.

Detroit presses late in the period, but a bad bounce in the slot springs Jesse Puljujarvi up ice for a breakaway chance that he snaps past Nedeljkovic to make it 3-1 Wings with under 40 seconds to go.

Hyman nearly makes it 3-2 before the end of the period. Yikes.

Score: 3-1 Wings
Shots: 29-20 Wings (13-11 for the period)
Stand Outs: Namestnikov, Erne, Suter
Sit Downs: Smith I guess?

Detroit gets the first chance on goal 30 seconds in, but that’s small comfort considering the ensuing rush gets McDavid up ice just under the faceoff dot for a shot that beats Nedeljkovic on the far side to make it 3-2 Detroit.

Skinner keeps Edmonton in the game a couple minutes later as Bertuzzi feeds Lucas Raymond for a one-timer in the slot that the young goalie stones. From here to the first break, the game gets a bit chippier as Detroit struggles to string together the same passes they have been doing but also keeping Edmonton from getting into dangerous areas.

Just out of the break, Detroit gets their second power play as Darnell Nurse pastes Robby Fabbri into the boards and sits for two. Raymond gets a chance off the faceoff stopped and the next chance is Kailer Yamamoto shorthanded. Nedeljkovic is helped by a backcheck from Mo Seider being careful not to take a penalty, but it’s not a pleasant sequence to watch unfold, as is the next sequence where Ned has to make a sprawling poke-check to deny Zach Hyman. The rest of the PP disappears without fanfare.

Seider stops a McDavid rush as Edmonton really starts to build their momentum out of the kill. I’m nervous as heck, y’all.

Seven minutes left and We’ve got brown diamonds for a Ned save on Bouchard at the back door. Rasmussen does strong stick-work to shut things down in the slot after this. Hyman rings the post to Ned’s left and I haven’t screamed this much at a clock since Sunday morning.

Lines get all mixed up with under five to go as Stephens Erne and Raymond spend a shift together. At this point I notice Givani Smith last played a shift with more than 16 minutes to go and has been on the bench since.

The first time the Wings get it anywhere near Edmonton’s net, Adam Erne can’t find the puck in his own feet.

Edmonton pulls Skinner with under two. A rebound is pushed just wide of the net. Edmonton buzzes for 90 seconds, but the Wings finally clear it and Michael Rasmussen makes absolutely sure the path is safe before feeding Mo Seider for the empty-netter. 4-2 Wings final.

Score: 4-2 Wings
Shots: 38-33 Detroit (9-13)
Stand Outs: Rasmussen, Seider, Suter, Nedeljkovic, Hronek, Larkin, Erne
Sit Downs: Smith (Literally)

An honest-to-goodness bend-don’t-break third period for a team trying to hold onto a lead.

I really liked the Wings being willing to play at that pace all night. Edmonton was just a little out of sync on what could have been great chances, but this is the best game I feel we’ve seen from the defense in terms of defending against the rush. They stayed closer to their checks and did a real good job managing zones. Just about everybody had to contend with Connor McDavid at some point but I think Hronek and DeKeyser did especially well.

For the forwards, Michael Rasmussen had what might have been his best game of the season.

It wasn’t a flawless game. That’s a lot of shots to give up and some big miscues, but I’m glad we got to avoid the “that was inevitable” result.

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