A victory over the Stanley Cup champions a few nights ago to open up the team's five-game road trip seems like so long ago. Following a 7-2 defeat Tuesday night against the Carolina Hurricanes, the Oilers followed it up with another one-sided loss. Edmonton falls to 1-2-0 on the road trip (4-8-2 overall) following a 6-2 defeat to the Detroit Red Wings Thursday night.
Dan Cleary and Tomas Holmstrom led the way, with each recording a pair of goals in the victory. Valterri Filppula and Johan Franzen added the other Red Wings markers, while Dustin Penner and Theo Peckham -- who recorded his first NHL goal -- tallied for the Oilers late in the third period to break the goose-egg.
Detroit's Dan Cleary continued his hot-hand against his former club, and his goal at 17:39 of the first period seemed to suck any life from the Oilers moving forward. While the Oilers were already down 2-0, the first period was fairly evenly played with the shot-count about even. Cleary's late tally made it a 3-0 game and ultimately put the game out of reach. Edmonton's offensive attack fizzled from here, as the following 40-minutes carried a similar tone to the latter half of their disappointing late-frame effort.
The Oilers as a team went 46% in the faceoff circle tonight, but the best Oiler was once again Gilbert Brule as he amassed a team-best 56%.
On a night where the Oilers were overshadowed on the scoreboard by a significant margin, you wouldn't expect too many players to be on the positive side of the plus-minus rating. That was the case, however, for Gagner, Whitney and Peckham as they all finished the night +1.
Two teams that aren't necessarily known for their physical play stepped up tonight. Combined, the teams recorded 51 hits (28 for Detroit, 23 for Edmonton).
After starting the trip strong, the Oilers now find themselves in a two-game losing skid.
The Detroit Red Wings are a team known for their puck possession game and overall patience in the offensive zone. That style was typified early in the first period when Valterri Filppula scored the first goal of the night. Jiri Hudler parked himself behind the night and patiently waited for a teammate to find a soft spot in the slot; Filppula did just that, as he snuck behind defenceman Tom Gilbert to receive a perfectly-placed Hudler pass. Filppula then chopped a backhand under the blocker of Khabibulin to put his team up 1-0.
At 40-years old, six-time Norris Trophy winning defenceman Nicklas Lidstrom still controls the game like no other in the NHL. A pin-point breakout pass, solid defensive coverage, and a calming influence at all times; Lidstrom had another fine outing with 19:15 of ice-time, one assist, a plus-two rating, two blocked shots, and three takeaways. Just another night at the office for the highly-talented Swedish defender.
With Shawn Horcoff currently out of the lineup, extra responsibility has been placed on Sam Gagner. The young forward responded well tonight with a strong two-way game that helped spark the team's offensive attack. Gagner was particularly strong down low and in the corners, where he often outmuscled the Red Wings en route to gaining possession. While Gagner didn't get on the scoresheet, his play caused problems for the Red Wings defence all night long.
Theo Peckham continues to be a bruising presence on the Oilers' blueline. With seven minutes remaining in the second period, a scrambled play in the neutral zone saw a number of players fighting for the loose puck. While Dustin Penner and Valterri Filppula were tied up just outside the Oilers' blueline, Peckham stepped up and crunched Filppula with a thundering shoulder that sent the talented Fin violently to the ice.
Coming into this season, Detroit goaltender Jimmy Howard didn't enjoy facing the Oilers. In 2009-10, Howard collected a 1-1-2 record, along with a 3.62 goals-against average and a .874 save percentage. This season, Howard has provided two stellar efforts against the Oilers -- both victories. In two games this season, he has a 1.50 goals-against average and an impressive .944 save percentage.
"It should just be another game. These guys put their skates on one foot at a time. Maybe sometimes we get too carried away with the fact that it's the Red wings. We have to play simpler games against the better teams, because the better teams will exploit us like you saw tonight."
- Dustin Penner on the loss to the Red Wings
Friday, November 12 at Detroit 5:00 p.m. MT (Sportsnet / 630 CHED)
One of the greatest positives to take from tonight's game is that Oilers will have little time to reflect on the unfortunate result. Edmonton takes on New Jersey in game four of its five-game road trip Friday evening. The team will be looking to get back on track and improve on the 1-2-0 trip record.