DETROIT >> For a guy that wanted the shootout to end before it go to him, Tomas Tatar looked as confidence as can be when it was his turn to go in the glorified skills competition.
Tatar scored the lone goal in the shootout to give the Detroit Red Wings an important extra point as they skated by the Edmonton Oilers, 2-1, Friday night at Joe Louis Arena.
“I really didn’t know what to do,” Tatar said. “I was hoping all the time that the guys before me would score so I didn’t have to go, unfortunately they didn’t. I was happy my puck found a way to the net. Good for us.”
Todd Bertuzzi and Daniel Alfredsson each missed prior to Tatar’s attempt. Jimmy Howard stopped all three of the Oilers’ shootout tries.
“We were watching some highlights of a shootout before and I saw the goalie let lots of goals in on his glove (side),” Tatar said. “So I was going to be like smart since he would expect lots of shots there so I was trying to do something else. It worked.”
Tatar pulled the string off his backhand and went top shelf with his forehand, blocker side on Edmonton goalie Viktor Fasth, who finished with 22 saves.
Detroit is tied with Philadelphia with 73 points, but the Flyers still hold down the final wild card spot because they’ve played one less game and they also have more regulation wins than the Wings.
“They are huge,” Tatar said of the two points. “We need every point right now. That game was kind of sloppy. We put ourselves in a bad position when they tied up the game and we had a power play and couldn’t score. It was tough. We could play better. There are games like this and we are really happy to take those two points from them.”
Riley Sheahan scored in regulation for Detroit, which was 0-for-4 on the power play, and Howard made 21 saves.
“Definitely,” Sheahan said when asked if this extra point was a relief. “We’ve got to start winning some games. The standings being so tight, this is a good way to start. Now we just have to carry it over to Sunday.”
Ryan Smyth scored for the Oilers, who have lost eight in a row in Detroit. They last won at Joe Louis Arena on Dec. 3, 2009.
The Wings clung to a 1-0 lead heading to the third period when a very costly turnover from Brendan Smith led to the equalizer for Edmonton off the stick of Smyth.
“If he puts it on our guy’s tape and we skate out through the middle I like it,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “If you turn it over it doesn’t look very good.”
Smith tried to backhand a pass into the slot to a teammate, but instead it went right onto the blade of Smyth, who wristed a shot over Howard’s glove to even the game at 1-1.
“I absolutely didn’t expect that,” Smyth said. “I thought he was going to throw it around the boards. Smith just threw it up the middle.”
Smith immediately put both gloves on his head as he skated slowly to the bench, where he sat with his head down for a good length of time.
The Wings had a chance to end things in regulation and then again in overtime when Edmonton were called for back-to-back delay of game penalties for putting the puck off the glass.
“We’ve just got to focus on getting shots through and getting active at the net,” Sheahan said. “It comes in waves. Right now maybe we’re not getting the shots through that we want but I think it’ll come.”
Sheahan opened the scoring just past the midway point of the first period depositing a pretty pass from Tatar past Fasth.
Trying to shed an Edmonton player, Tatar began to take the puck behind the Oilers’ net, but instead spun back around and threaded a pass to Sheahan and he chipped his shot into the goal.
The goal came after a pretty lackluster power play by the Wings.