Almost flu past them

CON GRIWKOWSKY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:46 AM ET

This flu stuff has a way of mutating.

Just when it looked like the Edmonton Oilers had solved their can't-score-itis, they contracted can't-hold-onto-a-lead-itis.

A game that looked like it was in the bag had to go to a shootout before the Oilers escaped with a 6-5 win.

The Oilers improved its home record to 6-5-1 in one of the more bizarre games of the season.

Edmonton had built up a 5-1 lead midway through the second period and were relegated to the role of spectators as the Wings clawed their way back into the game.

"That's a pretty good team if you let them off the hook," said Oilers coach Pat Quinn. "We started to be the team like they were in the first period. All the things we know don't work, we did."

Patrick O'Sullivan scored the lone shootout goal while Oilers goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin stopped all three Detroit shooters.

"Once I get over the blue line, I pretty much make up my mind," said O'Sullivan. "That move right there is usually what I do, unless I see something different.

"That team's done that for the last 15 years, it seems.

"It's tough to hold a lead against them.

"It's almost better to be only up a little bit because it forces you keep your head in it and not to sit back," said O'Sullivan.

"That might not sound like it makes any sense, but it's hard to be up three goals against that team because they're not going to quit and they're going to keep coming."

Hey, a wacky W is better than the four losses the Oilers suffered against the Wings last season.

"We'll take the two points," said O'Sullivan.

Henrik Zetterberg got the comeback going with a fluke goal off Oilers defenceman Tyler Chorney's skate.

Khabibulin needed a bit of luck and he got it as the Wings clanged three shots off goalposts after they started coming alive late in the second period.

But then, the shots started going in.

The Wings got goals out of wingers Jonathan Erickson, Todd Bertuzzi and Patrick Eaves to send the game into overtime.

The Red Wings outshot Edmonton 21-6 in the third period and 43-29 through regulation.

"I guess we just stopped playing," said defenceman Ladislav Smid.

"We gave them too much room to skate.

"If you give guys like Zetterberg or Datsyuk too much room, at some point, they're going to score.

"We have to learn a lesson from this game. We can't play like that. When we're up four goals, we have to keep playing. We played pretty good hockey for two periods.

"I don't know what happened. I guess you could say we got scared to win. Thanks to Khabi in the shootout, we got the win."

With Mike Comrie and Lubomir Visnovski on the sickbed, Quinn put Shawn Horcoff back on the top line with Dustin Penner and Ales Hemsky.

Penner had a goal and three assists, Hemsky two goals and an assist and Horcoff a goal and two assists as the line combined for 10 points on the last four goals but their efforts were wasted.

CON.GRIWKOWSKY@SUNMEDIA.CA


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