Edmonton Oilers edge Detroit to improve to 7-1

Edmonton Oilers left wing James Neal (18) celebrates his goal against the Detroit Red Wings with teammate Alex Chiasson (39) during the second period in Edmonton on Friday, Oct. 18, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Codie McLachlan. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Codie McLachlan

The Edmonton Oilers improved to 7-1 with a 2-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings Friday night at Rogers Place.

The Oilers held the Wings to 26 shots after allowing 52 on Wednesday against Philadelphia.

READ MORE: Edmonton Oilers explode in second to topple Flyers

After a scoreless first period, the Oilers jumped in front with two goals less than five minutes apart in the second. James Neal converted a rebound for his ninth of the season, then Ethan Bear floated a point shot past a screened Jonathan Bernier.

“The goals are nice but he’s playing a lot of real hard minutes with Nurse. He’s giving us real quality minutes on both sides of the puck,” head coach Dave Tippett said of Bear.

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“I really just take things one shift at a time, making sure I’m dialled in and making sure I can advance the puck as best I can and give myself the best opportunity to shoot when I get that opportunity,” Bear said.

Mike Green’s wrister beat Mikko Koskinen with 3:23 left in the second.

“We competed harder defensively tonight, and we didn’t capitalize on our chances like we did the other night,” head coach Dave Tippett said. “All in all, that’s probably the kind of game we needed coming off that other game. And any time you can learn like that and still win, we’ll take that.”

READ MORE: Edmonton Oilers win streak comes to an end in Chicago

With just over two minutes left in the third, Koskinen made a sharp blocker save on Dylan Larkin. Seconds later, Larkin’s long shot rang off the post.

“I didn’t really feel too much pressure out there,” Bear said. “You don’t want to panic in those types of situations, you want to be composed.”

“Even though the result wasn’t there it was a confidence building where we know when we play our game and we didn’t even play our best tonight but when we play our game, at times, we’re up there with the hottest team in the league,” Larkin said.

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With Bernier on the bench for an extra attacker, Connor McDavid hit the post on a shot at the empty net. The rebound went to Patrick Russell, who shot wide in his bid for his first NHL goal.

“Bernie was awesome. Their top line obviously had a lot of chances and he kept us in the game and gave us an opportunity to score late in the third,” Red Wings forward Tyler Bertuzzi said of his goaltender.

“We got down 2-0 and talked about not melting. We didn’t melt. We kept digging,” Red Wings head coach Jeff Blashill said. “We found a way to make it 2-1 and then I thought we had the better chances in the third period. We had a couple of shifts where we got in our end a little bit but overall we had the better of the chances, so we gave ourselves a chance to win the hockey game.”

Koskinen made 25 saves to improve to 4-0. Draisaitl has a point in every game this season.

“We tried to play more of a defence-first mentality today and I think when you do that, you create more offence because you have the puck more and you have more energy at the other end. I think we managed that well,” Koskinen said.

“My expectations were for him to come in and just be a solid goaltender, and that’s what we’re getting right now,” Tippett said. “We’ve gotten quality starts out of both goaltenders each game this year, and if we can continue that way, that’s exactly what we’re hoping for.”

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The Oilers also started 7-1 in 2016/17 on the way to a playoff berth. They’ll visit Winnipeg on Sunday.

–with files from 630 CHED’s Brenden Escott and Scott Johnston