PLAYOFF SERIES: Western Conference quarterfinals; series tied 2-2.
If the top-seeded Detroit Red Wings were on the verge of a playoff upset, they significantly reversed their fortunes with a road win Thursday in Game 4 of their Western Conference quarterfinals series.
Having re-claimed home-ice advantage, the Red Wings return to Detroit to host the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday afternoon.
Detroit overcame another solid effort from Edmonton goalie Dwayne Roloson— who had 27 saves—with three power-play goals in Thursday’s 4-2 victory. Defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom snapped a tie 6:44 into the third period with a power-play goal, and Henrik Zetteberg secured the win with a tally on the man advantage with 4:07 to play.
Zetterberg has scored all four of his goals on the power play, and Schneider has tallied four of his team-leading seven points when Detroit has enjoyed the man advantage.
With few meaningful games down the stretch, the Red Wings didn’t have to play with much urgency. They now seem to be finding their stride, having cut down on their turnovers in Thursday’s win.
“I think we’re getting there,” said goaltender Manny Legace. “We all know what it takes to win and you just have to get to that level when you are out there.”
Detroit struggled with Edmonton’s tight-checking approach early in the series. The Red Wings have adjusted, but still feel there’s room for improvement.
“We’ve done a lot of good things but a complete game, we haven’t done that,” center Kris Draper said. “That’s something that bothers everybody in this dressing room.”
The Red Wings have scored five power-play goals in the last two games, which is a concern for Edmonton coach Craig MacTavish. He wasn’t pleased with the officiating in Game 4, saying the rash of penalty calls took away the Oilers’ momentum. Still, he took issue with his team’s careless play.
“We were a little undisciplined,” MacTavish conceded. “We have to take some responsibility for our sticks.”
“They converted on two of their five-on-threes and we didn’t and that’s pretty much the game right there,” said Oilers defenseman Chris Pronger. “It’s not like we didn’t have our chances.”
Although the Oilers relinquished home-ice advantage, they are 15-2 all-time after taking a 2-1 lead in a series. Two such series victories came against the Red Wings when the Oilers won Stanley Cup championships in 1987 and ’88, but this time around, it is the Red Wings who have the more dynamic team.
“We’ve (won at Detroit) before and we know we can do it there,” Oilers center Jarret Stoll said. “You can’t help but to remain confident with the way we’ve been playing.”
The Oilers have won just four of their last 17 games in Detroit, but they have done it twice this season and they must win in “Hockeytown” at least once more to win their first playoff series since 1998.
Game 6 is Monday at Edmonton.
HOW THEY GOT HERE: Oilers - 95 points; 8th seed. Red Wings - 124 points; 1st seed.
PLAYOFF TEAM LEADERS: Oilers - four with 2 goals; Shawn Horcoff, 5 assists and 5 points; Marc-Andre Bergeron, 10 PIM. Red Wings - Zetterberg, 4 goals; Schneider, 6 assists and 7 points; Tomas Holmstrom, 8 PIM.
PLAYOFF SPECIAL TEAMS: Oilers - Power play: 18.5 percent (5 for 27). Penalty killing: 76.7 percent (23 for 30). Red Wings - Power play: 23.3 percent (7 for 30). Penalty killing: 81.5 percent (22 for 27).