EDMONTON – Darren Helm was just happy to be on the ice again. Scoring the winning goal was a plus.
Helm scored in his first game of the season and just his third game since March 2012 due to a myriad of injury woes as the Detroit Red Wings won their third straight game in four nights, defeating 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.”
Detroit head coach Mike Babcock was happy to see Helm 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 also scored for the Red Wings (9-4-2), who have gone 3-1-2 in their last six games.
Petr Mrazek was called on to make just 14 saves to earn his first career shutout in his third NHL game.
“It’s a great moment for me right now,” said the 21-year-old netminder. “Sometimes seeing that few shots is harder than facing 30. I really had to be focused on every shot that I had.”
Added Babcock: “That’s good for him. 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) are in the midst of yet another disappointing season, now with five consecutive losses before heading 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, I have no words for it and there is no excuses for us,” said Oilers defenceman Ladislav Smid.
“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 staked itself an early 2-0 lead on goals just 27 seconds apart five minutes into the contest.
An Edmonton miscue allowed Daniel Cleary to send Helm in on a breakaway and he managed to beat Oilers goalie Richard Bachman through the legs, scoring in his first game this season as he made his return from a groin injury.
Less than 30 seconds later it was a two-goal Wings lead as Bachman allowed a big rebound on an Andersson shot and Tatar was there to pounce on it for his third of the year.
Bachman injured his groin lunging for a puck with six minutes to play in the opening frame and had to be helped off the ice. Backup Jason LaBarbera came in to take his place in the Edmonton net.
Detroit made it 3-0 seven minutes into the second period as Daniel Alfredsson dished the puck to Kindl at the top of the right face-off circle and he unleashed a howitzer of a 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 period as a wrap-around attempt popped free in front of the net and Andersson was there to pounce on it and score his second of the season.
Two minutes late it was 5-0 as Henrik Zetterberg hooked behind the net on the power play and fed it to Bertuzzi at the backdoor. Bertuzzi’s 21 career goals against Edmonton are the most he has scored in his career against any team.
“It’s frustrating, there is not much else to be said,” said Oilers centre Sam Gagner. “Our compete level wasn’t high enough and we weren’t sharp to start the game.”
The Red Wings wrap up a four-game Western Canada swing in Winnipeg on Monday. Edmonton begins a four-game trip in Florida against the Panthers on Tuesday.
Notes: Now that Detroit has switched conferences, the game was the first of only two meetings between the Oilers and Red Wings this season. Detroit won all three meetings last season and came into the game with a 6-0-5 in its previous 11 visits to Edmonton … With Gustavsson out with a neck injury, Mrazek got the call. Normal starter Howard was being spelled after playing on Friday night against Calgary … Edmonton third-string goalie Bachman got his third consecutive start in net for the Oilers, despite Devan Dubnyk being ready to return from an ankle injury. Bachman had a 2.40 goals-against average in his first two games … Edmonton defenceman Justin Schultz was out with a groin injury and forward David Perron missed his second contest with a neck injury. Coming to replace them in the lineup were defenceman Philip Larsen, who made his Oilers debut and forward Ryan Hamilton, who returned for the first time since suffering a knee injury on October 7 … Remaining on the Oilers lengthy list of injured players were forwards Jesse Joensuu (undisclosed), Ryan Smyth (groin), Tyler Pitlick (knee) and Taylor Hall (knee), who has at least started skating … Red Wings forward Johan Franzen (illness) left the game in Calgary and was not able to recover enough to play the Oilers. Also out for Detroit was Jonathan Ericsson (shoulder) … The Red Wings’ top six scorers this season range in age from 33 to 41 years old.