DETROIT — As sure as the Zamboni comes out to clean the ice at every intermission, you can count on the Detroit Red Wings beating the Edmonton Oilers in everything except the Stanley Cup tournament — which counts most — over the last 13 years.
The Red Wings fell to the Oilers during Edmonton’s Cinderella 2006 playoff ride, but in the regular season have beaten the Oilers like a rented mule (as TSN’s Darren Dutchyshen is fond of saying) losing only twice in regulation over the past 47 meetings.
While the Oilers thoroughly dominated the Red Wings through the first period — causing one fan in the nosebleeds to yell, “Geez, it’s Edmonton,” — the final result was the same old, same old. The Red Wings recorded a 5-2 victory, which ran their record against the Oilers to 29-2-16 since 2001-02. So that’s 74 out of a possible 94 points.
Fourth-liner Rob Klinkhammer gave the Oilers the lead 135 seconds into the game, as he found a sliver of space between Jimmy Howard and the goalpost on a scramble, but the Wings got through the first 20 minutes only down 1-0.
Niklas Kronwall scored on a power-play shot that eluded Ben Scrivens’ blocker just 21 seconds into the second period and Riley Sheahan, off a tidy feed from Gus Nyqvist, scored at 14:04 to give the Red Wings a 2-1 lead. Jordan Oesterle, playing in his hometown, had overskated the puck behind Scrivens to start the Sheahan goal in motion, with Teemu Pulkkinen getting the puck to Nyqvist, who got it over to Sheahan.
In the third Pulkkinen, who leads the American Hockey League in goals with 34 and has a Brett Hull-type shot according to pro scouts, rifled one past Scrivens after a setup by Pavel Datsyuk who had gobbled up a puck off an Anton Lander play in the neutral zone.
Justin Abdelkader and Datsyuk added empty-netters after one by Nail Yakupov as the Oilers fell by three goals for the 17th time this season.
Yakupov got the second Oilers goal on a late power play with Scrivens on the bench for a 6-on-4 advantage as the Oilers outshot Detroit 17-9 in the third, forcing Howard into several strong stops including a deflected Benoit Pouliot shot that ticked Kyle Quincey’s stick and settled into the goalie’s mitt when it was still 2-1.
The winner came from the three Detroit draft picks all coming out of the Grand Rapids hothouse.
“Really creative play by Gus. I had a sense he was going to feed it to me,” said Sheahan, who had a wide-open net.
After the goal, Scrivens shot the puck against the glass in exasperation. Not his fault, but the Wings made it look awfully easy before a full house at Joe Louis Arena.
It was the Oilers’ eighth straight loss here, where it’s always a bitter cup of Joe.
The Oilers, who outshot the Wings 9-0 before Tomas Tatar got their first shot 9-1/2 minutes into the first, scored on the game’s third shift. Klinkhammer jammed in a goalmouth shot for his first Edmonton goal, picking up the puck as a souvenir.
“We came out and worked, pretty simple,” said Klinkhammer.
“Any time I get one it’s a bonus.”
“They really were jumping at the start … we spent a lot of time in our end,” said Henrik Zetterberg, who watched as the shots were 14-2 at one point on Jimmy Howard. The Red Wings goalie kept them in hunt until Kronwall scored early in the second.
The defenceman, eighth in career points for Swedish D, ripped one past Scrivens’ blocker early in the middle frame with Matt Fraser in the box for hauling down Nyqvist late in the first.
ON THE BENCH: Evgeny Romasko became the first Russian referee to work an NHL game, with partner Paul Devorski … Benoit Pouliot was back after missing Sunday’s game in Carolina with the flu. With Anton Lander (shoulder) also returning after being out three weeks, the Oilers scratched winger Luke Gazdic. They played former Western Michigan University defenceman Oesterle, who was born in suburban Detroit, and sat Keith Aulie … Wings forward Johan Franzen (concussion) hasn’t played a game in two months since Klinkhammer belted him in the neutral zone at Rexall Place … The Wings also scratched Stephen Weiss, who was on for two short-handed goals in Boston, and is prime trade material next season.