DETROIT — On a night when the Edmonton Oilers guaranteed themselves a last-place finish this season it was the Detroit Red Wings who looked like they were going to clinch No. 30.
As in 30 goals against an opponent that spent most of the game looking every bit like the worst team in the league, and perhaps the worst team to ever wear Edmonton Oilers colours.
The Wings had 30 shots before the second period was even over and would have been in double digit scoring if not for the netminding of frazzled starter Jeff Deslauriers. As it was, the hosts jumped out to a 4-0 lead.
The Oilers looked brutal.
But games are 60 minutes long and Edmonton spent the last 23 trying to make a game of it. They got up off the canvas, scoring two goals late in the second and two more in the third to tie the contest and scare the heck out of everyone in the place.
It wasn’t until a Brad Stuart deflection (that went up for video review) with 1:07 left in regulation, that the Wings could sleep easy, 5-4 victors, and the Oilers could sleep with the fishes.
The swarming began early, with Detroit outshooting Edmonton 16-7 in the first period and jumping out to a 3-0 lead on goals from Valtteri Filppula, Niklas Kronwall and Drew Miller.
It was pretty easy to tell which team had its eye on the playoffs and which one is playing out the string.
The Oilers were down 4-0 when two goals in 56 seconds late in the second period made it look close. A shot clock that read 36-15 said otherwise.
No way the 30th place team in the NHL was coming back from four goals down on the road against a Detroit Club that was 12-2-1 in it last 15.
When Zack Stortini scored on a wraparound early in the third period to close the gap to 4-3, fans in Joe Louis Arena was muttering ‘OK, this isn’t funny anymore,’
Gilbert squared it a 10:30 when he stepped up for a one timer and it was game on.
LATE HITS ... Dustin Penner left the game in the first period after being hit below the right eye with the puck ... One of the few brights spots was Mike Comrie, who had a goal and an assist despite playing among the fewest minutes among Edmonton forwards ... Former UofA Golden Bears winger Jesse Gimblett signed an AHL deal with the Springfield Falcons. The six-foot-three, 225-pounder had 21 goals and 22 assists in 39 games with the Bears.