Oilers-Red Wings Preview
The injury-plagued Detroit Red Wings are hoping a return home will wake up their offense and get their playoff push back on track.
A matchup with the Edmonton Oilers might give the Red Wings a chance to accomplish both goals Friday night.
Detroit (29-23-13) was outscored 7-1 while dropping back-to-back road games and lost another two players to injury. Tomas Jurco is expected to miss the next 10 to 14 days after breaking his rib in a 4-1 defeat to Columbus on Tuesday.
Teemu Pulkkinen is expected to replace Jurco in the lineup Friday and will become the fifth Red Wings player to make his NHL debut this season.
Joakim Andersson fractured his left foot in Sunday's 3-0 loss to the New York Rangers and joins an injury list that includes captain Henrik Zetterberg (back), Pavel Datsyuk (knee), Daniel Cleary (knee), Stephen Weiss (sports hernia) and Darren Helm (concussion).
Those injuries have hardly helped Detroit in its quest for a 23rd consecutive playoff berth. The Red Wings are two points behind Philadelphia for the Eastern Conference's second wild-card spot.
"No sense in worrying about (the injured players), we have to win a game," coach Mike Babcock told the team's website. "That's the way I look at it. ... What are you going to do? No sense worrying about it. It's part of the business, we have to suck it up and find a way to win."
The Red Wings have managed to overcome those absence on home ice lately, averaging 3.71 goals during a 5-0-2 stretch. They registered their highest scoring output of the season in their most recent game at Joe Louis Arena, a 7-4 victory over New Jersey last Friday.
Detroit won 5-0 in Edmonton on Nov. 2 in the only other matchup this season. Andersson and Helm, though, were among the goal scorers who helped the Red Wings improve to 12-0-1 in their last 13 against the Oilers, the last-place team in the West.
They've also taken the last five meetings and seven in a row at home. Jimmy Howard stopped 22 shots and Cory Emmerton, recalled from the minors Monday, scored one of his 12 career goals in the most recent matchup at Joe Louis, a 3-0 win March 7, 2013.
Howard is 9-0-0 with a 1.43 goals-against average in his last nine games against the Oilers but is 0-2-1 with a 3.26 GAA in three starts this month. He was forced to sit out Tuesday because of the flu but is slated to start Friday.
Edmonton (23-36-8), which is yielding an average of 3.27 goals to rank 29th in the NHL, had won three of four before a 6-2 loss in St. Louis on Thursday. The Oilers allowed four goals in the third period to the league-leading Blues in their first regulation defeat away from home since Feb. 1.
"In the third, they just took over. That's what good teams do," said forward David Perron, who opened the scoring with his team-best 25th goal. "I think we just need a little more patience in our game."