It was a high-energy game that pitted the Wings against one of the top teams in the NHL. The Wings played a confident, well-executed style that led to a 4-2 victory and their first three-game winning streak in two years.
Moritz Seider scored into an empty net with 5.4 seconds to play to seal the victory and improve the Wings to 7-5-2. It’s only the second time in 11 games the Oilers have lost in regulation.
It was as crisp a game as the Wings have played all season. Vladislav Namestnikov made his sixth goal of the season a beauty, scoring in the first period, and added his seventh in the second period.
Dylan Larkin made it 3-0 on an opportunistic goal. Stuart Skinner attempted to send the puck behind his net but it bounced right back out front and onto Larkin’s stick. The Wings’ lead was shaved in the last minute of the second period when Slater Koekkoek picked up a loose puck and sent Jesse Puljujarvi off on a breakaway that ended with the puck flying by Alex Nedeljkovic.
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The damage grew in the opening minute of the third period, when Connor McDavid scored to pull the Oilers within a goal.
The Wings had a video presentation during the first period to honor Oilers general manager Ken Holland, who spent nearly four decades with the Wings and won four Stanley Cups. Holland made the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2020 as a builder. He received a nice ovation from fans.
McDavid is the most explosive player in the NHL. His talents were on display early when he got the puck deep in Detroit’s zone and quickly set up Puljujarvi right in front of Detroit’s net. Leon Draisaitl, who led the NHL with 23 points entering the game, is the other player on the line. The Wings put their best line against the trio, matching up Larkin’s speed against McDavid’s. Tyler Bertuzzi is tough and used to facing elite players. It speaks to how highly the Wings think of rookie Lucas Raymond that he stayed on the line rather than switching things around to put a more veteran forward with the group.
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Namestnikov looked like the former first-round pick he is when he scored his goal. He had the puck along the boards, scooted around Edmonton defender Tyson Barrie, and flipped the puck behind Stuart Skinner. In just 14 games, Namestnikov is already at seven goals, one shy of his output in 2021. That was his first season with Detroit, and his eight goals and nine assists in 53 games was a disappointment. The No. 27 pick in 2011 (by then-Tampa Bay GM Steve Yzerman) was brought in to add skill up front, and this season he’s done that, adding scoring dimension to the bottom-six group.
It was fitting that Sam Gagner marked his 900th career game against the Oilers, as that was the franchise that drafted him at No. 6 in 2007.
“Edmonton holds a special place my heart,” Gagner said. “I met my wife there, my daughter was born there. I owe a lot to the Oilers organization for giving me a chance and developing me.”
Gagner, 32, was acquired by Yzerman at the 2020 trade deadline as part of Andreas Athanasiou package deal. Gagner has been signed to one-year extensions twice, because at $850,000 a season he’s inexpensive but brings a wealth of leadership and is a solid two-way forward. For Gagner’s part, he’s hoping to extend the relationship.
“There’s been some ups and downs but I’ve enjoyed the journey. I want to keep playing as long as I can.”
Gagner earned an assist on Namestnikov’s goal.
Contact Helene St. James at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames. Read more on the Detroit Red Wings and sign up for our Red Wings newsletter. Her book, The Big 50: The Detroit Red Wings is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Triumph Books. Personalized copies available via her e-mail.
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Red Wings take down Oilers, one of NHL’s top teams, 4-2