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Five Takeaways: Detroit Red Wings hand Edmonton Oilers second loss

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Vladislav Namestnikov, Detroit Red Wings
Vladislav Namestnikov scored twice to lead the Detroit Red Wings to a 4-2 win against the Edmonton Oilers at Little Caesars Arena

The Detroit Red Wings claimed sole possession of second place in the Atlantic Division by downing the Edmonton Oilers 4-2 at Little Caesars Arena. The Red Wings have won three in a row to raise their record to 7-5-2.

Excellent Survival Skills

The Detroit Red Wings played with efficiency, energy and pace for two periods, building a 3-0 lead. But the Oilers, 9-1 coming into the game, began to find their game late in the second period. Jesse Puljujarvi scored with 35 seconds left in the period to cut the lead to 3-1.

Connor McDavid then scored on his first shift of the third period to cut Detroit’s lead to 3-2. Based on how well the Oilers have played this season, you would have expected them to take charge. The rebuilding Red Wings have not been perfect when it comes to closing out wins.

But the Red Wings found their resolve in the third period, and kept the Oilers off the scoreboard the rest of the way.

“I think we are learning, and there were areas where we took a step tonight,” Detroit Coach Jeff Blashill said.

Namestnikov Surging

Vladislav Namestnikov scored twice in the win. That gives him seven goals this season. He only netted eight all of last season. Connor McDavid has nine goals and he’s the best player in the league. Namestnikov plays on the third line.

“The goals are a part of it, but I thought his whole game was really good tonight,” Blashill said. “I don’t judge him just on production, but we do need production throughout the lineup. It’s critically important. You can’t rely on one, two or three guys to score your way to success on a night to night basis…the way he played tonight is critical.”

Alex, Shut the Door

Goalie Alex Nedeljkovic made 31 saves, including a handful late in the third period when the Red Wings were simply trying to hold onto their one-goal lead. He raised his record to 3-2-2 on the season.

This is the sixth consecutive appearance this season that Nedejkovic has posted a game save percentage of .900 or better. In those six games, Nedejkovic has a save percentage of .927. He is clearly playing with confidence.

“(His goaltending) was critical,” Blashill said. “But that’s the league. You look around the league the teams at the top generally have really good goaltending. It’s what we need out of them and what’s what expect out of them and they’ve given that to us. I think we need to get better defensively. I know that actually.”

No Power Play Goals for the Oilers

That was a key factor in the win. The Oilers have the NHL’s No. 1 power play with a 46.9% efficiency. The Red Wings rank 26th in the league in penalty killing. But they killed off both of Edmonton’s power play chances in this game.

“I haven’t disliked our penalty killing,” Blashill said. “I’ve disliked the percentage (72.3%) it’s at.”

He thinks the Red Wings can have a “a real good kill by the end of the year.”

Growing Confidence

Earlier in the season, the Red Wings would have lost that game or given a goal in the third to end up in overtime. But the Red Wings are growing, maturing into a confident group. They seemed poised, not harried, when the Oilers were pushing for the final goal. With McDavid and Leon Drasaitl flying about, the Oilers are intimidating offensively.

The Red Wings didn’t act intimidated in this game.

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