EDMONTON – The Detroit Red Wings gave the Edmonton Oilers a lesson in composure Tuesday night.
Todd Bertuzzi scored twice, including the game winner, as Detroit survived a scare to beat Edmonton 5-3 for its first win in three games.
After Edmonton rallied from 3-1 deficit to tie the game late, Detroit got a break when Bertuzzi’s shot banked off the skate of defender Ladislav Smid and in with 2:50 to play. The Wings the cemented the win on Darren Helm’s goal 44 seconds later.
“It was more interesting than it should have been,”said Detroit head coach Mike Babcock.“We didn’t start the third period as well as we wanted to and we didn’t get through the neutral zone as good.
“Then they got a chintzy one to tie the game. But I thought we responded very well from there, scoring the two goals. We’re getting contributions from everybody right now and we need it when we are short-staffed.”
Henrik Zetterberg and Kris Draper also scored for Detroit (25-10-5, 55 points), which moved into a tie atop the NHL standings with the Vancouver Canucks.
“Every game you have to try and take some positives,”said Wings goalie Chris Osgood.“We are playing well on the road.
“We’d like to get our goals against down but winning is the main thing right now for us. We never got rattled, even when they tied it up.”
Gilbert Brule, Theo Peckham and Sam Gagner scored for Edmonton (12-19-7), which has lost seven straight. It’s the Oilers’ worst streak of futility since an epic 13-game slide from Dec. 31-Jan 30 of last season.
Edmonton head coach Tom Renney was disappointed with his team’s unwillingness to go toe-to-toe with the Wings until late in the match.
“I think when the Detroit Red Wings come in here you kind of hope you are going to be OK instead of just going,”he said.“That’s what we have to do.
“We just have to go. I would rather have a tough night because we are going after things and stepping on the gas than playing with trepidation. You have to go after them and see what we are capable of.”
Gagner feels the team must stop having to constantly fight back from early deficits.
“We can’t be content with losing close games,” he said. “We have to play like we do when it’s 3-0 or 3-1.
“That’s the mentality we need here all the time. When we’re down by two or three there’s urgency and desperation. It’s when we have nothing to lose that we start to play the game differently. We need that mindset all of the game.”
The Red Wings opened the scoring less than four minutes into the game when Zetterberg’s point shot found its way through a sea of bodies in front of Oilers starter Nikolai Khabibulin for his 15th goal of the season.
Edmonton tied it 12 minutes into the first when Brule converted Liam Reddox’s drop pass by lifting a backhand shot over Osgood’s glove.
Detroit regained the one-goal lead seven minutes into the second when Bertuzzi took a loose puck behind the net and hooked a backhand past Khabibulin to make it 2-1.
The Red Wings made it 3-1 just past the halfway mark of the period when Helm sent Draper in on a partial breakaway. Draper beat Khabibulin with a great deke for his third goal of the year.
Edmonton made it a one-goal game five minutes into the third as Gagner found a pinching Peckham from behind the net to make it 3-2. The Oilers tied it with about 8:30 left in the period as Gagner battled to control the puck off the faceoff, the fired a shot through Osgood’s legs.
The Oilers conclude a five-game homestand Thursday against the New York Islanders. The Wings will play the second leg of a five-game trip in Calgary on Friday.
NOTES—It was the third of four meetings between the two teams this season, with Detroit victorious in the first two. Edmonton took three of four last year . . . There were plenty of roster changes for the Oilers as Magnus Paajarvi came back from being a healthy scratch to playing on the first line with Sam Gagner and Ales Hemsky. Also reinserted was rookie defenceman Jeff Petry and veteran Jim Vandermeer, coming back from injury. Call-ups Linus Omark and Liam Reddox also dressed despite missing the morning practice asthey travelled from Oklahoma City to join the team . . . The news on Oiler Jordan Eberle’s injured ankle isn’t as dire as was feared and he should not be out any longer than two to three weeks . . . Detroit’s Brad Stuart was back in the lineup after getting hit in the back of the head by a shot in the Wings’last game against the Flyers . . . Winger Patrick Eaves missed his third consecutive game with an elbow injury . . . Zetterberg and Nicklas Lidstrom stretched their respective point streaks to eight games apiece.