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Recap: Oilers 2 - Red Wings 1

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Winnipeg Jets v Detroit Red Wings Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Pre-game

Well, here we go. One of the most exciting players is here in Detroit, and after a series of poor performances, the stage is set for Connor McDavid to put on a show.

I try to watch Edmonton games when I can since McDavid is so fun to watch, but I’m hoping against hope that Detroit can keep him in check.

Will we get more evidence that “hope is not a strategy?” Let’s find out.

Looks like Athanasiou is up with Zetterberg and Tatar for line rushes. Guessing that mean Abby - Helm - Sheahan

After spending half the day memorizing how to spell Puljujarvi, he’s not playing. Of course, the hockey gods have a sick sense of humor, and he is replaced by Anton Slepyshev.

First Period

Howard’s SV% is 97%. McDavid’s number is 97. Clearly that means that Howard will cancel McDavid out.

The Wings have trouble breaking through Edmonton’s forecheck. The Oiler pressure is making it hard for the Wings to make good outlet passes.

After a steal by McDavid leads to nothing, Larkin doesn’t miss by much on a nice chance. Nyquist made a nice move at the blue line to get a good zone entry. More of that please.

Draisaitl makes a really nice move down the boards and has a great short-side chance, but Howard holds his post well.

Klefbom takes an Abdelkader shot off the leg, and he looks to be in some pain.

After the TV timeout, Helm sets up Abdelkader who is stoned on two close-in opportunities.

Nyquist is taken down and the Wings go to the game’s first power play.

GOAL! Abdelkader with a PP goal off a rebound. Smith takes a point shot that Gustavsson can’t handle, and Abdelkader makes it 1-0.

Howard keeps it 1-0 with a top-notch stop on Maroon, who was allowed a wide open shot in the slot. They get away with it here, but it could be a long night if they continue to allow those chances.

Luke Glendening makes an unreal pass to give Steve Ott a wide-open net. The puck stays out. It looked like an amazing save by Gustavsson, it’ll be interesting to see the replay.

Athanasiou makes a strong physical play to steal the puck off an Abdelkader flip in, nearly setting up a good chance in front.

Abdelkader has scored in each of the two games since his engagement.

Finally a stoppage of play for the replay of the Ott chance. It was a really nice save by Gustavsson, but Ott had enough room where it should have been unsaveable.

Edmonton makes it a tie game. Brendan Smith doesn’t react quickly enough to a missed shot, and Tyler Pitlick comes from behind the net to put it past Howard. Smith got a stick on it, but not enough. Smith should have done a lot better on that play.

Matthew Benning gets hit in the face by a Justin Abdelkader followthrough, which is not a penalty. For a short while, it appears that tonight it will be a penalty, but the officials ultimately make the correct call.

Athanasiou throws a puck towards the net from the corner that almost caroms into the net.

End of the first period, it’s tied 1-1. The Wings played well for stretches of play, but have continued to make the mistakes we saw in the last few games. So far, McDavid hasn’t broken loose. Helm has done a good job of sticking with him.

Second Period

Howard has to make a good save on Nugent-Hopkins to start the period.

Marchenko must have gotten the word that he is Slepyshev’s NHL Secret Santa because he gift wrapped a pass to the Edmonton forward. Fortunately Howard kept the score at 1-1. (The replay showed that the pass hit Zetterberg’s skate, but that was still a really bad idea.).

Larkin is out on a shift with Ott and Miller. It’s still called the OMG line, although the context now is OMG what is Larkin doing on a line with Ott and Miller?

Helm nearly deflected a shot/pass by Green.

Howard is continuing to bail Detroit out. Kronwall doesn’t seem to see Lucic and Draisaitl found him for a great chance.

Larkin is out with Ott and Miller again. It wasn’t just a bad dream. Sheahan hits the bar, which is coincidentally what people who didn’t see the game will do when they read in this recap that Larkin is playing with Ott and Miller.

McDavid is taking nearly two minute shifts. That’s one way to get the matchup you want.

Man, if Maroon was good, he’d have four goals tonight already. Fortunately for us, he’s not.

Larkin is now out with Nyquist and Nielsen, and the world makes sense again. The Wings are starting to pick it up, with a strong shift by that line, keeping sustained pressure in the Oilers’ zone.

Halfway through the period, it’s still 1-1.

With five minutes left, McDavid shows why he is so dangerous, creating two chances in a row that nearly led to a goal each time. He’s been held in check most of the night, but he doesn’t need much of an opening to create a goal.

Larkin takes out Gryba, and Edmonton goes to the power play.

Draisaitl breaks to the net, but Howard stops him. McDavid lifts his stick, then Green takes a tripping penalty.

McDavid threads the needle to Nugent-Hopkins, who puts it by Howard to make it 2-1 Edmonton. That pass went by two Red Wing’s sticks, and a skate. Howard had no chance on that.

At the end of the second, Edmonton leads 2-1. If Howard wasn’t playing as strongly as he has all season so far, the difference would be wider.

Third Period

After McDavid does his best impression of Sean Avery in front of Jimmy Howard, Athanasiou’s speed allows him to draw a penalty, and the Wings go to a power play.

Halfway through the power play, and the Wings can’t get it into the zone. The Edmonton pressure is keeping them from getting set up once they do get it in the zone.

Draisaitl breaks in nearly alone, with Nielsen harassing him enough to keep him from getting too good of a chance.

Athanasiou is not just creating chances with his speed, he’s been noticeable today winning battles along the boards.

This has the feel of a reverse of the last few games. We shouldn’t win this game, but it feels like somehow we are going to steal a point.

I mean, we haven’t gotten a scoring chance in this period and we are more than halfway through, but I am choosing to be positive. We’ll see how dumb that choice is soon.

A few minutes later, and it’s starting to look pretty dumb. We just can’t get anything going.

Smith gets away with what should have been an interference call on McDavid, which likely would have sealed our fate, but luckily, it wasn’t called.

Howard goes to the bench with just under two minutes, and the Wings finally get a little sustained offensive pressure. The Oilers clear it down the ice for an icing, and the Wings call a timeout with a minute to go.

Nyquist fans on a nice cross-ice feed from Larkin. The Oilers ice the puck again. The Wings get a few good chances, but can’t finish, and the Oilers win 2-1.

Final Thoughts

While I hoped we could stop the losing streak, I headed into this game thinking it was an uphill battle. Unfortunately, I was right, and the Wings were definitely outplayed tonight.

They did a pretty good job of containing McDavid, but they allowed his teammates far too many good chances.

If Howard didn’t play so well, it would have been a blowout. We barely got any sustained offensive pressure.