On the second stop of their west coast road trip, the Red Wings traveled to Edmonton to take on the Oilers. In the second meeting between the teams this season, Detroit fell 7-5 in what was a rather exciting and well-played game.
New pickup Olli Juolevi gets his first game on the blue line for Detroit alongside Filip Hronek. Taking the place of Lindstrom in the defensive pairing, Juolevi was on the second defensive unit and would see 15 minutes of playing time. Taro Hirose took the place of Luke Witkowski on the fourth offensive line alongside Adam Erne and Michael Rasmussen. With the loss of Robby Fabbri (ACL), Tyler Bertuzzi (ineligible to play in CAN), and Danny DeKeyser (waivers), there have been some callups and pickups that are getting ice time right off of the bat. Hirose had a solid second game of the season as he left the ice with two assists on goals from Marc Staal and Filip Zadina.
Three goals were allowed in the first five minutes of the game which resulted in Thomas Greiss immediately being pulled from net. Greiss faced six shots in these five minutes and would leave the game with a .500 SV% to be replaced by Alex Nedeljkovic. Both Red Wings goaltenders have been on the struggle bus as of late which is a normal thing for goalies to experience in their careers, but for this struggling team having both netminders hit a rough patch at the same time is detrimental. Thankfully, it seemed that Nedeljkovic was more comfortable on the ice last night and he looked to be more on top of his usual game. In a 22 save game, Nedeljkovic only allowed three goals and walked with a .880 SV%- his highest in the last three games.
Marc Staal ripped an absolute laser of a shot from the blue line which put the Red Wings on the board. In his 1,001st game, Staal was able to net not one but two goals for his first career two-goal performance. His second goal of the game was nearly identical to the first and was the goal that tied the game 4-4, sealing the Red Wings comeback. Who would’ve thought that one of the driving offensive forces in this game would be one of Detroit’s veteran defensemen?
Aside from Staal’s two goals, Sam Gagner, Lucas Raymond, and Filip Zadina also found the back of the net in Edmonton. Sam Gagner, a former Oiler, scored an unassisted goal from the goal line on the glove side of Koskinen. To open up the third period, Filip Zadina brought the heat with a well-needed power play goal assisted by Nick Leddy and Taro Hirose which would be his 8th of the season. Raymond’s 19th goal of the season was off of a smart pass from Dylan Larkin to catch the Oilers goalie in a bad spot which gave Raymond a wide-open net. Now just one goal behind the leading spots in both the rookie goals and points races, Lucas Raymond is catching up to Michael Bunting (TOR) to beat him out for the top spot.
Although the same negatives that have been around were still present last night, there were a couple of positives worth pointing out. Coming out of the first period, the score was 4-1 with three of those goals coming in the first five minutes. Detroit was able to shut the Oilers offense down for the entire second period while tallying a second goal to start the third period off 4-2. Being able to go 20 minutes without allowing a goal is almost something to cheer about with the way the defense and goaltending have looked as of late. Coming into the third period with two back-to-back goals (34 seconds apart) making it a one-goal game was shocking given the way this team has been playing- they came out with energy and a spark that had not been seen in their last game against Calgary.
Going from a 4-1 game to a 4-4 then 5-5 game is such a drastic turnaround that proves that even in their most terrible stretches, there is hope for this team down the line as there are players that have the drive to stay in these seemingly lost games. The Red Wings battled back hard against the Oilers and were able to do so until Edmonton scored their sixth goal which was a truly unfortunate bounce off of Marc Staal on the wrap around from Foegele. Even though a loss is a loss and the positives that can be found do not outweigh the negatives, this game looked completely different than their last did and it was a positive difference.
As the Red Wings continue along the west coast, they prepare to battle the Canucks on Thursday and once again hope to finally get a victory. This loss against the Oilers was Detroit’s sixth consecutive loss and they have not won a game since March 1st. The Canucks will be coming off of a 6-3 win over the Devils when the Red Wings come to town and both teams will be ready to fight for a win. All things considered- will the Red Wings be able to pull things together and terminate their losing streak?