It's been a year of extremes for the Red Wings thus far. Either everything goes right, or everything goes wrong. This was one of the nights when they could do no wrong. Steve Yzerman celebrated his 1400th regular season game by scoring a power play goal, one of the four power play goals that helped lift the Red Wings to a lopsided 7-1 win over the Edmonton Oilers.
Detroit knew it was important to start the game strongly. They did so, and then followed it up by taking advantage of power play opportunities, keeping the Oilers from setting up scoring plays, and continuously pressuring Edmonton goalie Ty Conklin.
Yzerman's goal came ten seconds into the Wings' first power play of the game. Brendan Shanahan shot the puck from the left circle. Yzerman was being knocked down repeatedly in front of the net, but he batted Shanahan's shot down to the ice, then backhanded it past Conklin.
Darryl Bootland scored his first NHL goal late in the first. The puck was lying loose in front of Edmonton's net. None of the Oilers seemed to know who was supposed to get it, so Bootland beat them to it and flipped it in.
Yzerman returned the favor to Shanahan early in the second, by making a pass which Shanahan converted into a power play goal of his own, but the Oilers got on the board with a strange goal just over a minute later. Radek Dvorak took a shot on net from the left corner. The puck glanced off Jiri Fischer's stick, which caused it to flutter, and Manny Legace hit it with his wrist instead of his catching glove. The miscalculation caused the puck to bounce into the net, making the score 3-1.
Detroit continued to press, and caused the Oilers to take another penalty. This time, Brett Hull scored the power play goal. Mathieu Schneider's shot hit Pavel Datsyuk in front of the net, and Hull grabbed that rebound to scoop past Conklin.
After Hull's goal, the Red Wings never looked back. Kris Draper chased Conklin from the net by scoring off a nice pass from Boyd Devereaux, but Conklin's replacement, Steven Valiquette, fared no better against the streaking Grind Line member. Draper scored his ninth goal of the season during a five-on-three power play.
Steve Thomas capped off the night with a late goal. Datsyuk wheeled around Mike York as he carried the puck into the Oilers zone. He fell, but still managed to center the puck. Thomas was in all alone, and carried the puck right to the goal crease to backhand a shot over Valiquette.
In the end, Detroit outshot Edmonton by a count of 43 to 16. The Red Wings' next opponents will be the New York Islanders, Friday night at the Joe.
Notes: Tomas Holmstrom left the game with an injured shoulder late in the first period. More details will be provided as they become available... Draper is second only to Yzerman and Hull in goal scoring at this point in the season. Who knew?
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