Oilers get rare win over reeling Wings

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News
The Oilers gather after Mark Letestu's goal on Petr Mrazek in the first period.

Edmonton, Alberta – On a day the movie "Back to the Future" was celebrated, the Red Wings did their part going back in time, too.

There wasn’t much celebrating, though, the way this turned out.

Edmonton defeated the Red Wings in regulation time Wednesday night for the first time in six years, winning 3-1.

The last time the Oilers defeated the Red Wings in regulation? Dec. 3, 2009, a stretch in which the Red Wings were 15-0-1 against Edmonton.

Tomas Tatar scored the lone Red Wings goal, in the third period, his first of the season.

The Oilers scored twice in a 30-second span midway in the second period to build a 3-0 lead and the Red Wings couldn’t recover.

“We have to figure it out and play good hockey,” Tatar said. “We have to put it behind us and play better.”

These are two teams going in different directions.

The Red Wings lost for the third consecutive game (3-3-0, 6 points), with games on this road trip left in Calgary (Friday) and Vancouver (Saturday), while the Oilers have won three consecutive games (3-4-0, 6 points).

“It was better than the last game,” captain Henrik Zetterberg said. “We battled harder. We won some more battles, played a little more offense. Those two quick goals for them hurt us.”

Mark Letestu (power play), rookie sensation Connor McDavid and Teddy Purcell scored for the Oilers, while goalie Cam Talbot stopped 28 shots.

Petr Mrazek stopped 26 Edmonton shots.

This was a much improved Oilers team from recent seasons.

“They’re playing with some better structure, and when they get the odd-man rush, they’re real good,” Zetterberg said. “They’ve always been skilled and fast, but they believe in the system and they’re doing more things right.”

Coach Jeff Blashill talked all week about limiting the opposition’s shots, spending more time in the offensive zone, and increasing the low amount of shots the Red Wings have generated.

There was moderate improvement in those areas.

The Red Wings outshot Edmonton 29-28 (thanks mainly to a 13-6 edge in the third period) and several quality scoring chances were turned aside by Talbot.

“There were a lot of positives,” Blashill said. “In large parts, today was good. We went into the game withi a real focus on spending more time in their end and we need to continue to get better, but it was step in the right direction.

“Now we have to get better Friday.”

The Red Wings’ power play, another sore spot during this losing streak, was again ineffective going 0-for-6 (it’s 2-for-19 for the season).

The Red Wings had a late third-period power play – and pulled Mrazek to gain a two-man advantage – but failed to score.

“We have to get more shots, the power play has to be better, especially on the road,” Zetterberg said. "When we get opportunities we have to take advantage and we haven’t done that. We just have to keep going at it.”

McDavid, the No. 1 overall pick by the Oilers in June, had the goal of the night and arguably one of the better ones in the NHL this young season.

McDavid put a marvelous deke in front of Mrazek at 6:34 of the second period, scoring his fourth goal, and putting the Oilers ahead 2-0.

Then, 30 seconds later, on a scramble around Mrazek’s net, the puck bounced off defenseman Kyle Quincey’s leg and into the net, the goal credited to Purcell.