Nikolai Khabibulin looked great in his season debut, but sometimes that isn't enough when Pavel Datsyuk is on the other side.
Datsyuk had a goal and an assist, and Jimmy Howard made 23 saves Saturday to help the Detroit Red Wings to a 2-1 victory against the Edmonton Oilers at Joe Louis Arena.
The Red Wings now have victories in three straight. Khabibulin stopped 28 of 30 shots, a few in spectacular fashion, but it wasn't enough for the Oilers, who have dropped five consecutive games (0-2-3).
"I thought we did a pretty good job," Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. "We would have liked the other one back. Overall we did a good job of staying aggressive and not giving them too much room."
Datsyuk set up Kronwall’s power-play goal at 6:08 of the third period to put the Red Wings back in front after the teams traded tallies in the second. The Russian playmaker collected the puck during a scrambled situation near the right circle and sent it back to Kronwall near the blue line for a blast with Johan Franzen providing the screen.
"Mule (Johan Franzen) once again did a great job in front. I finally was able to get one on the net," said Kronwall, who has nine points in 10 games. "We talked a lot about shooting the puck. Mule is going to be there all night long. The rest of us have to do a better job getting pucks in there."
It was Datsyuk who put the Red Wings in the lead midway through the second period after a scoreless first. Damien Brunner sent the puck to Datsyuk at the edge of the crease with Detroit enjoying a power play at 8:33 of the second. Datsyuk now has four goals and 12 points, four behind captain Henrik Zetterberg for the team lead.
Edmonton rookie Justin Schultz answered with an extra-man marker of his own late in the middle period. Schultz's blast from the top of the offensive zone leveled the score at 17:55 of the second.
It was Schultz's fourth goal of the season, all on the power play. He leads all rookie defensemen in goals and points and all first-year players in power-play scores.
Edmonton finished the afternoon 1-for-8 on the power play. The Oilers failed to capitalize on a 5-on-3 for 1:07 in the third period.
"Disappointed, of course, with our specialty teams, which has been very strong this season. Today they deserted us," Oilers coach Ralph Krueger said.
Added Schultz: "We would have loved to capitalize on that. We just didn't click on the 5-on-3, We moved it better on the 5-on-4 than the 5-on-3."
This was Khabibulin's season debut and first game action since March 30. He began the season on injured reserve after having surgery to repair a torn labrum in his hip in April.
The 40-year-old goaltender is the second-oldest to appear in an NHL game this season -- he is months younger than Martin Brodeur. Howard's current backup, 20-year-old Petr Mrazek, became the youngest in the League this season when he made his NHL debut Thursday.
Mrazek was nine days old when the Unified Team (the former Soviet Union minus the Baltic countries) claimed gold at the 1992 Winter Olympics with a young Khabibulin watching as the third-string goaltender.
Both teams have been hamstrung by injuries. Even with Khabibulin back, the Oilers were short seven players. Top center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was back in the lineup, but with fellow pivots Shawn Horcoff, Eric Belanger and Anton Lander injured, veteran Ryan Smyth spent his second straight game in the middle.
The Red Wings also were short seven players, including a pair of defensemen (Carlo Colaiacovo and Brendan Smith) and three potential top-nine forwards (Darren Helm, Todd Bertuzzi and Mikael Samuelsson).
Material from wire services and team media was used in this report.
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