Oilers look to halt Wings' streak
After starting their season-long seven-game road trip with no wins in four games, the Oilers can move back to .500 for the trip with a victory tonight.
However, it wont be easy with the opponent being the Detroit Red Wings. The Wings have been essentially unbeatable on home ice of late with 13 consecutive wins and an overall home record of 22-3-3. They are currently tied with Nashville for tops in the Western Conference.
"Somewhere in the back of your mind, you know that were strong at home," Red Wings forward Henrik Zetterberg said. "Teams that come in here know that were strong at home and thats its good to have that strength. Even if we dont play our best, we seem to find a way to win."
A victory tonight would match the best home winning streak in franchise history. The Wings won 14 straight on home ice in 1965. The Wings last game was a 4-2 victory on home ice over the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday. Zetterberg netted the game-tying goal with 6:22 left and then added an empty netter.
"He's scoring right now. It's not like at the start of the year, he wasn't playing well," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said.
In the previous three meetings between Detroit and Edmonton, the two clubs have only scored one power play goal combined. The Wings are 1-for-14 while the Oilers are 0-for-14.
The Oilers have the best penalty kill unit on the road at 92.2% and the Wings have been studying up the past several days in an attempt to crack that shell.
"We just looked at their penalty kill this morning," stated Babcock. "Theyre very aggressive. They do a good job net-front, compete hard net-front. Theyve got good goaltending this year, and your goaltenders your best penalty killer. So obviously theyve got a good scheme, and theyre working hard at it."
Dominik Hasek will start in goal tonight for Detroit.
The Oilers are coming off a huge win last night versus the Columbus Blue Jackets. Needing to gain ground in the playoff race, they closed the gap between themselves and eighth-place Calgary to seven points.
Shawn Horcoff scored twice in the 4-0 win against the Blue Jackets. A win tonight sets the table for Sunday afternoons match-up with the Minnesota Wild but it wont be easy against the red hot Red Wings.
"Were going to have to do a good job with the puck. (Last nights) game leads me to believe were very capable of doing that. We managed the puck very well and moved the puck," said Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish. "Weve got to go in there with confidence and play a good puck possession game."
Both Fernando Pisani and Daniel Tjarnqvist look to be available for the Oilers tonight as both players took the optional morning skate but head coach Craig Mactavish would not disclose any lineup changes.
Dwayne Roloson is expected to get the start in goal for Edmonton.
ROSTER UPDATES: Edmonton – Ethan Moreau (shoulder) is out. Jarret Stoll (concussion) is out. Fernando Pisani (concussion) is probable. Petr Nedved (knee) is doubtful. Tom Gilbert (concussion) is doubtful. Daniel Tjarnqvist (inflamed pubic bone) is probable. Detroit – Tomas Kopecky (broken clavicle) is out.
OILERS TO WATCH: Shawn Horcoff scored two goals and had an assist last night for his first multiple-goal game of the season and 10th multiple-point game. He also netted the game winner, which ties him with Ryan Smyth for second on the team with five game-winning goals. Horcoff has scored three of the last four Oilers game winners (Feb. 3, Feb. 9, and Feb. 22) Ales Hemsky quietly extended his scoring streak to four games with an assist last night. He also has picked up points in five of the last six games (7 assists).
RED WINGS TO WATCH: Henrik Zetterberg has been one of the hottest players in the league over the past several weeks. He has registered at least a point in each game during the Wings current 13-game road win streak (10g, 14a). Also, with 12 goals in February, he closing in on Brendan Shanahans team record of 14 Dominik Hasek will start tonight for the Red Wings. He currently leads the league with a 2.05 goals-against average and has an impressive 32-8-3 record.