Edmonton, Alberta — Another Red Wings loss, and it hurt them. But unlike some of them during this recent losing stretch, this one was different.
Warren Foegel’s wraparound goal snapped a tie and Evander Kane’s second goal was an empty netter, sending Edmonton to a 7-5 victory.
But the Wings rallied from a 4-1 deficit, tying the game early in the third period. They rallied after being down 5-4. But the Wings couldn’t do it yet one more time, seeing their winless streak go to six games (0-5-1) while having won only twice in their last 11 games (2-8-1).
“Very disappointing, they score three there to start and have the puck in our zone for three minutes,” forward Dylan Larkin said. “We talked about whatever happens in this game, whatever happens we’re going to play and play hard and stick together and we did that.
“We knew to hound, they don’t want to play defense and our forecheck was how we got pucks back. Unfortunately it took us too long to get going, but once we got going we were a dangerous team and we had them on the ropes.”
The Wings scored three goals on six shots — after Edmonton did so to begin the game – tying the game 5-5 early in the third period. Marc Staal (his second of the game), Filip Zadina (power play) and Lucas Raymond had Wings goals, as the Wings rallied twice tying the game.
Sam Gagner, in his return to Edmonton and in his 946th NHL game — tying his dad Dave in games played — scored his seventh at 18:06 of the second period, a bad-angle goal against goalie Mikko Koskinen, cutting Edmonton’s lead to 4-2 and giving the Wings some life.
“Down 3-0, it’s tough, but we did tons of good stuff in this game,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “Right now, pucks are going in and that’s just the way it is. (But) we talked about being mentally tough and we were unreal that way. I’m proud of our guys, they worked and competed and played throughout the game.
“We’re not trying to have moral victories here but I judge on the process and from a process standpoint we did a lot of good stuff.”
The Wings got back in the game with one of their best forechecks of the season, getting pucks at shaky goaltender Mikko Koskinen, and using their speed to bewilder the speedy Oilers.
“We didn’t give them much space, we forechecked hard and we gapped hard and created turnovers,” Blashill said.
Taro Hirose had two assists in his season debut for the Wings. All four lines made impacts either offensively or defensively.
Devin Shore, Connor McDavid and Zach Hyman scored goals in a 2:36 span early in the first period to send goaltender Thomas Greiss (three saves on six shots) to the bench.
Kailer Yamamoto (power play) scored near the end of the first period, giving Edmonton to a 4-1 lead after 20 minutes and seemingly were in total control.
But the Wings roared back, with Gagner igniting the rally, though ultimately it again came up short.
“Bad things are going to happen out here and we have to be mentally tough and find a way to grind through,” Blashill said. “Down 3-0 on the road, you make it 3-1 and 4-1, and we just stayed with it. I’m really proud of the way our guys battled and competed and that’s what we have to do going forward.”
Blashill talked the day before about the Wings’ having to continue to claw during this difficult stretch. This game, was a good example of that.
“We didn’t stop fighting,” Larkin said. “We stayed in the game.”
Said Blashill: “The biggest thing now is we play with tons of passion, we compete extremely hard and we did that tonight.”