Wings’ Kronwall scores OT winner against Oilers
Detroit — In another game when their offense hummed but they nonetheless had trouble finishing their ample chances, the Red Wings finally defeated the Oilers on Friday, 4-3.
Niklas Kronwall scored from the left wing in the 3-on-3 round of play, just 26 seconds in, after a brilliant feed by Dylan Larkin, who also had a goal in the game.
Henrik Zetterberg also had an assist on the goal, his second of the game.
Outplaying and outshooting yet another team for long portions of the game, the Wings had trouble scoring. And when they finally did, their offensive pressure lagged, and the Oilers were able to even the game from a 2-0 deficit in the second, and 3-2 at the start of the third.
After failing to convert several chances through 20 minutes, the Wings tallied twice in the second to establish a coveted two-goal lead.
They spent the first 5:11 of the period almost entirely in the Oilers end, outshooting them 7-0 before Gustav Nyquist shoveled a rebound through goalie CamTalbot.
Mike Green, who continues to heat up as he becomes increasingly assertive on offense in his 17th game with the Wings, pinched in from the blue line, making a beeline to the net, and nearly scoring.
Talbot managed the stop, but could not handle the rebound.
It was Nyquist’s eight of the season, from Green and Tomas Tatar.
Less than seven minutes later, Nyquist returned the favor for Tatar. Taking a pass from Jonathan Ericsson before the Oilers blue line, Nyquist found Tatar to his right on the wing, and delivered a pass fine enough to allow for a one-timer.
Tatar made no mistake, and the shot was one of those the net seemed barely able to contain, as it struck the roof and back.
Those two Wings goals proved essential. As the offensive intensity lagged just a bit, and helped by penalty the Red Wings were forced to take by the newly ascendant Oilers, the Red Wings allowed two goals in 2:37.
As their defensive structure seemed suddenly to evaporate, Iiro Pakarinen planted himself alone, directly in front of Howard, and beat him at 15:17.
Luke Glendening then took a penalty for interfering with one of the Oilers’ top forwards, Leon Draisaitl, behind the Red Wings net as the Wings geographic advantage continue to disappear.
Just less than a minute into the power play, defenseman Andrej Sekera scored from Mark Letestu and Benoit Pouliot at 17:44.
The feeling of déjà vu was setting in for the Red Wings when two guys who have been among the main sparkplugs for the offense so far this season went to work.
Zetterberg carried the puck into the zone and faded to his right, leaving tons of space to his left for Larkin, who was closing. Zetterberg feathered a perfect backhand pass to Larkin who put it home for his ninth of the year.
It restored a two-goal lead.
But the Red Wings came out slow and chasing the game in the third period, with the Oilers getting the first four shots.
The Wings had a couple of offensive thrusts, but at 8:45 of the period, Darren Helm overskated the puck, trying to start the transition to offense, immediately to Howard’s left.
Kronwall tried to retrieve it, but fanned.
Pakarinen, who had just one goal entering the game, was directly on the puck and put it immediately behind Howard, who stood little chance.
It tied the game at 3-3.
In the first period, the Red Wings were frustratingly scoreless, yet again, despite outshooting the Oilers 9-4.
The Oilers blocked eight shots in the period, including two early scoring possibilities by Pavel Datsyuk and Brendan Smith that never made it through to Talbot.
At the seven-minute mark, Kronwall issued his first violent body-check with his patented move of squeezing up along the sideboard in the offensive zone and catching an oncoming player unaware, since he was suspended from the seventh game of the playoffs against the Lightning last season.
This time it was Mark Letestu who absorbed the damage.
Kronwall did not appear to “launch” his body into Letestu, and his back foot remained on the ground throughout the check.
The Oilers objected, but their forward, Matt Hendricks, picked up the only penalty, for roughing Kronwall.
The Wings opened the game poorly in the face-off circles, at one point winning only 25 percent.