EDMONTON - The visiting Detroit Red Wings rallied back from a 2-0 third-period deficit to defeat the Edmonton Oilers 3-2 in overtime Friday night at Rexall Place.
"We never had the plan to sit back. There was never a call to sit back," said Head Coach Ralph Krueger. "That's not in our game. It might have looked that way because Detroit got more puck possession. I'd say we ended up falling back more than we were sitting back."
"We felt like we did a lot of good things early," added Sam Gagner, who netted his 11th of the season and remains as the Oilers leading scorer with 26 points in 27 games this season.
"Discipline was the key factor in the third and it allowed them to dictate the play a little more than we had hoped. We have to continue to be aggressive and push the pace."
As Gagner alluded to, the Oilers had their opportunities on the power-play but went 0-for-3 on the night.
"It's unfortunate," said Gagner. "We played really hard. We played a really good 40 minutes and we weren't really giving them much. Power-plays changed the landscape of the game."
The Oilers went up 1-0 at 3:34 when Hall showcased a wonderful individual effort, splitting the napping Detroit defence and snapping a quick shot past Jimmy Howard.
Penalties to Brendan Smith and another one late to ex-Oiler Dan Cleary gave the Oilers separate power-play chances to extend their lead in the opening 20, but Howard was there to deny each attempt.
Ladislav Smid was assessed the Oilers’ lone minor of the period (hooking), but the visitors came up empty.
Edmonton led 10-5 in shots after one and were in complete control.
The Oilers came out strong in the second and were rewarded with a pair of glorious scoring chances early. Just 14 seconds in, Hall challenged veteran Jonathan Ericsson once more with a slick dangle and, once successful, drove the net but couldn’t quite slip the biscuit past the well-positioned netminder.
Less than a minute later, Magnus Paajarvi turned the corner on Brian Lashoff as he cut across the crease, but Howard had an answer for that, too.
As the seven-minute mark approached, Ales Hemsky continued the onslaught as he redirected a pass off the end boards behind Ericsson and Niklas Kronwall, scooped it up in the slot and went to his backhand, but Howard came up with a sensational sprawling save to preserve the 1-0 score.
The Oilers were presented with another power-play chance at 8:27 when Jakub Kindle was assessed a slashing minor, but the man-advantage was wiped out 39 seconds in when Hall was charged with high-sticking.
On the ensuing (and brief) Red Wings power-play, Johan Franzen fed Datsyuk in the slot, but the sniper’s wicked one-timer glanced off Dubnyk’s glove side post.
With 8:17 left in the second, Mike Brown and Jordin Tootoo dropped the mitts and starting chucking in a highly entertaining, minute-long tilt near the Red Wings bench.
Charged by the energy of Brown’s unanimous decision, the Oilers made it a 2-0 game at 16:18. Working the corner like a bull, Hall escaped multiple checks and dished off to Nail Yakupov who wheeled into the slot and snapped a shot on goal. Quick to clean up the rebound, Gagner pounced and slid the rebound past Howard.
The Oilers added 16 shots to their running tally and, through two periods, led the Red Wings 26-14 overall.
The Red Wings cut into the lead at 4:27 of the third period when Valtteri Filppula walked into the slot slipped a backhand shot up and over Dubnyk's right shoulder.
"We had the puck twice on our stick," said Krueger. "It's an excellent goal by Filppula, but the breakdowns that led to it were out of character. It's disappointing when you look at how we had the game under control and we got pushed back by a very, very strong team."
"We played with a lot of intensity," said Hall, noting his team's dominant performance in the opening 40. "It looked like we sat back and we were afraid to make plays. When you have a 2-0 lead, you should be calm, you should be composed.
"We weren't that."
Mike Brown was assessed a high-sticking minor at 13:26. On the ensuing power-play, Kronwall got the Red Wings got back on even terms -- but it was an Oiler, defenceman Jeff Petry, who made last contact as he shot the puck directly into his own net.
"I was coming back to the net, it went off the pad and my reaction was to puck my stick on the ice," said Petry. "As I was putting it down, I had forward momentum and it went into the net."
"It's a tough one for Jeff, but it's the team that takes responsibility for the turnaround -- not an individual player," added Krueger.
Detroit outshot Edmonton 12-6 in the third and overtime was required to determine a winner.
Datsyuk ended it early in overtime with a world-class play as he raced across the blue line and whistled a wrist shot up and over Dubnyk.
-- Ryan Dittrick, edmontonoilers.com | Follow me on Twitter @ryandittrick