EDMONTON – The Detroit Red Wings’ road game is finally starting to come around.
Drew Miller scored the game winner with 4:15 remaining in the third period Monday as the Detroit Red Wings earned a 3-2 victory over the Edmonton Oilers to improve to 8-8-0 away from Joe Louis Arena.
Miller’s goal came on a deflection off a point shot by Niklas Lidstrom. It was Detroit’s third goal of the night that came off of a tip in.
Dan Cleary and Jiri Hudler also scored for the Red Wings (21-11-1), who have been on fire of late, winning 12 of their last 15.
The Wings are an impressive 13-2-1 at home, but have struggled on the road this season, making it a relief to get back to even in that category.
“That’s a stat we hear about a lot. It’s nice to be back to .500,” Detroit forward Henrik Zetterberg said. “We didn’t have our best game. They were skating a lot better than we did. But we kept grinding away and that’s important to do on the road. It’s a good start to this road trip as we have two more before we go home for Christmas.”
Lidstrom agreed Detroit’s hard work was the difference.
“We were tied heading into the third on the road and we just wanted to grind it out and not open ourselves up defensively,” he said. “We wanted to wait for our opportunity and our third line had a great night tonight. It was great to see Miller get that winning goal tonight. It’s something we have to continue to build on.”
Ryan Jones and Jordan Eberle had the goals for the Oilers (14-16-3), who have dropped four straight and have losses in nine of their last 11 games.
“We played hard and I felt we were with them every step of the way,” Oilers head coach Tom Renney said. “We worked hard and did a lot of good things. We have to stick with it. We can’t feel sorry for ourselves. No one is going to hand you points. We have a couple of games to build on now and maybe we can start winning again.”
Detroit started the scoring four and a half minutes into the first as Cleary redirected a backhand shot by Jakub Kindl past Oilers goalie Nikolai Khabibulin.
Edmonton had its chances but couldn’t beat Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard. Taylor Hall hit a post and also had a puck heading toward an open net on a partial breakaway that was fished safely away by Detroit’s Brad Stuart.
The Oilers tied the game less than three minutes into the second period. Sam Gagner chipped a puck up ice to give Jones, who beat Howard through the legs for his 11th through Howard’s legs.
The Red Wings went up 2-1 with four minutes remaining in the second off a Ryan Whitney giveaway as Hudler tipped a Zetterberg shot home.
Edmonton tied the game once again on a power-play goal with 0.5 seconds left in the second period when Eberle rifled a shot home from the slot.
Khabibulin came up big seven minutes into the third period to keep it a 2-2 game, making a huge stop on a point-blank shot from Zetterberg.
The Red Wings play next on Wednesday in Vancouver while the Oilers are off until Thursday when they host the Minnesota Wild.
Notes: The Red Wings won the only previous meeting between the two teams 3-0 in Detroit in November. Detroit came into the game with a six-game winning streak against Edmonton and had earned points in 19 of their last 20 games against the Oilers. … Detroit forward Jan Mursak (fractured ankle) has returned to practice, but is expected to head to Grand Rapids (AHL) for a conditioning stint after Christmas. Detroit forward Patrick Eaves (fractured jaw) and Chris Conner (fractured hand) are also recovering. … Defenceman Cam Barker (ankle) is still out until likely February for the Oilers.…Forward Lennart Petrell took the place of bruiser Darcy Hordichuk in the Edmonton lineup. …. Detroit forward Valterri Filppula is on pace to surpass his career-high 40 point season, with 26 points in 31 games.