EDMONTON - Darren Helm's return to the Detroit Red Wings' lineup was a triumphant one.
Helm, who had suited up for the Red Wings just once since March 2012 due to a succession of injuries, scored the winning goal in his first appearance of the season, helping Detroit to a 5-0 victory against the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday night.
"I was pretty nervous, I was pretty anxious and eager to get out there," Helm said. "I started getting tired towards the end. I had to play a little harder on the puck and bodies. There were shifts where I got a little tired, but I was able to recover pretty quick on the bench. They did a good job keeping my shifts short and using me when they needed to."
Tomas Tatar, Jakub Kindl, Joakim Andersson and Todd Bertuzzi also scored for the Red Wings. Rookie Petr Mrazek had to make only 14 saves to earn his first career shutout in his season debut.
Helm opened the scoring 5:09 into the first period, getting to a puck that bounced past Oilers defenseman Jeff Petry at center ice, going in uncontested and beating goaltender Richard Bachman between the pads. It was Helm's first goal since March 9, 2012.
"It was a nice lucky bounce," Helm said. "It was the icing on top of the cake, really. 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."
Helm's goal was the only one the Red Wings would need as the Oilers were shutout for the second consecutive game. They lost 4-0 to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday.
"It's tough, it was embarrassing, I have no words for it and there is no excuses for us," defenseman Ladislav Smid said. "People talk about injuries and bad 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.
"Collectively we have to wake up and start working as a team and working for each other."
Tatar scored 27 seconds after Helm's goal, pouncing on a rebound in front after Bachman stopped a shot from Andersson.
The two quick goals seem to take the life out of the Oilers.
"[Helm] gives a huge dimension of talent that we can take advantage of if he is healthy," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "He can be dominant. To see him do what he did tonight, I thought he played very well.
"We controlled the game and played well. We wanted to play three periods, not two like we did last night [in a 4-3 win against the Calgary Flames]."
Detroit goes for a sweep of its four-game road trip Monday night against the Winnipeg Jets.
Bachman was forced to leave before the end of the period sustaining a groin injury. Bachman was making his third consecutive start since being recalled from the Oklahoma City Barons on an emergency basis Sunday.
Jason LaBarbera replaced Bachman and was beaten at 6:55 of the second period when he was unable to stop Kindl's blast from the edge of the circle.
Despite not being in the lineup, goaltender Devan Dubnyk took a spot on the Oilers bench for the second period as an emergency replacement for LaBarbera. Dubnyk, who was nursing a sore ankle, would have been allowed to play only if LaBarbera was injured.
Andersson made it 4-0 at 7:54 of the third period by beating Ryan Nugent-Hopkins to the front of the net and converting a pass from Drew Miller. Bertuzzi closed the scoring at 9:43 with a power-play goal; he was left alone in front to bury Henrik Zetterberg's pass.
"We had no one stand up and push back," Oilers coach Dallas Eakins said. "We've lost our confidence and we're playing scared. We're trying to play safe and if you play safe, you're dead. You've got to play to your strengths, do what you do best."
The Oilers never really threatened once they fell behind. Mrazek, called up from the Grand Rapids Griffins in place of the injured Jonas Gustavsson, had an easy night in goal as the Red Wings gave starter Jimmy Howard the night off.
"We played good defense today and very good on the penalty kill," Mrazek said. "The team played very well. We knew we had to play smart to beat these guys and we did.
"It's a great moment for me right now. Sometimes seeing that few shots is harder than facing 30. I really had to be focused on every shot that I had."
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