DETROIT – It’s going to take some time for the Wings’ penalty kill to climb out from near the bottom of the league.
But after a game by that group of specialty teamers Saturday afternoon that day may soon be coming.
That unit killed off a 5-on-3 for a minute and seven seconds to begin the third period and then went a full two minutes of a 6-on-4 with 2:33 left to play.
And on both opportunities, the Oilers didn’t get a shot on goal.
“We did a good job pushing them to the outside, really not giving them much,” said Wings goalie Jimmy Howard after the 2-1 win over Edmonton. “Can’t let them penetrate the middle. We tried to force the puck to some bad angle shots.”
“Special teams are very important,” said Wings coach Mike Babcock, whose limited the Oilers to one goal on eight power play chances. “I thought our penalty kill was outstanding. We started the year with a plan that we could spread out the ice time with so much hockey in so short a time and our specialty teams on the penalty kill hadn’t been as good so we played the big guys on it way more here tonight and they were more aggressive and we were better on it.”
Only twice this season have the Wings not allowed a power play goal by the opposition.
“I thought we did a pretty good job,” Niklas Kronwall said. “We would have liked the other one back, but overall we did a good job of staying aggressive and not giving them too much room.”
The Wings’ penalty kill was ranked 29th in the league, at 69.6 percent.
“We’re not too happy with where our percentage,” Drew Miller said. “We know we have a good group of guys out there killing and we know we’re capable of getting it done. It’s just keep believing in that and executing.”
Kronwall, Brian Lashoff and Kyle Quincey combined to block seven of the Wings’ 15 blocked shots in the game.
“They had a few chances, but we battled,” Pavel Datsyuk said. “We tried to keep the shots away, lots of blocks. Our defenseman did lots of blocks. We’re picking up every day. It’s hard to jump right back to the top, but we’re taking it step by step.”
“The D are out there sacrificing their bodies, trying to make the big plays,” Miller said. “I thought that was great there in the end. We had a lot of penalties to kill there late in the third, in a close game. I’d say the penalty kill came up big and Howie made some big saves.”