Red Wings Riding High on a Three Game Winning Streak
Make no mistake, the Red Wings are one of the hottest teams in the NHL right now. They have won 6 of their last 7 games and are on a 3 game winning streak heading into tonight's game. They are getting secondary scoring as well as the always expected contribution from none other than Pavel Datsyuk. Everything seems to be clicking. Their last two games were not against the best teams in the league, but they still presented different challenges. Last night the Wings faced an Oilers team that is just playing for respect. The Oilers are a team that is rebuilding. They aren't going to win the Stanley Cup this season. But you can bet that they get up for games against teams like the Wings. It was probably very surreal for guys like Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle to be playing against players that they grew up watching. So you can bet that they were motivated to play at a high level.
The third line shined yet again for the Red Wings. Justin Abdelkader got the scoring started in the first two minutes of the first period. He capitalized on rush by tapping in a rebound from a shot by Modano. Khabibulin let the rebound out but it took a fancy backhanded tip from Abdelkader to get the puck in the back of the net. He's definitely feeling it after scoring a goal in each of his first two games of the season. It's wonderful to have him back in the lineup.
Goal posts were a common theme in the game. The Oilers and Wings were both hitting posts to keep it a 1-0 game through 1 period and into the second. But things got ugly when Gilbert Brule hit Datsyuk into the boards in the second period. The Wings were not happy with the hit. Jonathan Ericsson especially took exception to the hit. He dropped the gloves with Brule but also ended up with an instigator. The Oilers capitalized on that power play. Taylor Hall got his third career NHL goal, and just like that it was a tie game.
The tie did not last very long. Just a few minutes later, Valtteri Filppula scored a power play goal of his own to make it 2-1 Wings. Clearly made a beautiful pass over to Filppula without even looking. Depth and experience paid off for the Wings yet again.
Nikolai Khabibulin was the story the rest of the way. He stood on his head and kept his young Oilers team in the game. He was stopping everything fired at him as the Wings got a lot of pressure on him. But it was all for the naught. The Oilers were unable to solve Jimmy Howard who quietly had a great game himself. He has gone 22 straight starts without a regulation loss.
Dan Clearly capped off a fantastic night for himself with the empty netter with 21 seconds remaining. Pavel Datsyuk was able to use his always incredible hockey senses to spring Cleary into the offensive zone. With that assist he also extended his point streak to an incredible 11 games.
The Red Wings will face the Vancouver Canucks tonight in Vancouver as they search for their 4th straight win.