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DETROIT -- For the Edmonton Oilers to separate themselves from the pack in the Western Conference, they'll need to start beating some elite teams. A win at Joe Louis Arena would be a good start.
The Oilers continue a three-game road trip this afternoon against the Central Division-leading Red Wings, who will be trying not to look ahead to another Stanley Cup finals rematch on Sunday.
Edmonton (26-22-3) begins play tied for sixth place in the tightly-packed West, where 11 teams are separated by only nine points.
While that makes this game important, the Oilers have lost seven of their last 10 visits to Detroit. Three of those defeats have come by shutout, including a 4-0 setback on Nov. 17, and only one win was in regulation.
Edmonton kicked off its swing on Thursday with a 2-1 shootout victory over St. Louis. Dwayne Roloson made 33 saves through overtime, then stopped T.J. Oshie and Brad Boyes in the tiebreaker as the Oilers won for the third time in four road games.
"I thought we played a gritty game," Edmonton coach Craig MacTavish said. "It was an important win. We were starting to slide the other way."
All-Star Sheldon Souray scored in regulation, and Robert Nilsson and Sam Gagner added goals in the shootout.
Shawn Horcoff is tied with Souray for second on the team with 33 points. But the center has only one goal in his last 16 games, and has scored 11 this season down from 21 in 2007-08.
Ending those woes likely won't be easy. In his last six games in Detroit, Horcoff has only one goal and one assist.
On Sunday, the Red Wings (33-11-7) will face Pittsburgh for the second time after beating them in six games last June to win their fourth Stanley Cup in 11 seasons. The Red Wings, who raised their latest Cup in Pittsburgh, lost to the Penguins 7-6 in overtime on Nov. 11 at Joe Louis.
First, though, Mike Babcock's club will look for its third straight win after a season-high five-game skid. On Monday, the Red Wings ended their funk with a shootout win over St. Louis, then followed it up with 5-4 victory over Phoenix on Wednesday.
Marian Hossa scored twice and Niklas Lidstrom - playing in his 1,300th game - tallied a power-play goal with 39 seconds remaining to thwart Phoenix's third-period rally from a two-goal deficit.
"It's not the way we want to win but we're still able to win games," Lidstrom said. "We're still working at details in our game that could be better."
Henrik Zetterberg also found the back of the net in his return after missing three games with back spasms. It also was his first action since inking a 12-year, $73 million contract extension on Jan. 28.
"We're second in the West. I think we've been playing OK. A few games maybe we could play a little bit better," the reigning Conn Smythe winner said on Thursday. "But we have a few things that we, for sure, can do better. We're working on it, 30-some games before the playoffs start. We're just going to get ourselves ready for a good run again."
Zetterberg has 18 goals and 26 assists in 44 games this season. He has four goals and four assists in a five-game home point streak against Edmonton.
Detroit, which has won the Central each of the last seven seasons under three coaches, has a seven-point lead over second-place Chicago.
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