DETROIT — The way the Detroit Red Wings have been playing, it was only a matter of time before Jimmy Howard ended up with a shutout.
Howard made 22 saves, and Jakub Kindl and Cory Emmerton scored in the second period to lift the Red Wings over the Edmonton Oilers 3-0 on Thursday night.
Detroit has gone five games without allowing a goal in the first or second period, and Howard blanked Edmonton in the third as well for his second shutout of the season.
“I think we’re playing really well as a team right now. We’re doing a lot of great things,” Howard said. “When you work hard and you pay attention to detail, good things happen.”
Justin Abdelkader’s empty-net goal put the game out of reach.
Howard made 36 saves in a win Tuesday against Colorado, but coach Mike Babcock wasn’t all that impressed with his team’s overall performance that night. The Red Wings were sharper defensively against Edmonton and took control in the second period, when they outshot the Oilers 15-7.
Detroit is 10-0-1 in its last 11 regular-season games against Edmonton.
The Oilers are 0-3-1 in their last four games overall.
After a scoreless first period — a shot off the crossbar by Detroit’s Kyle Quincey was the only noteworthy moment — the Red Wings looked a bit more energized in the second.
Jordin Tootoo fought with Edmonton’s Mike Brown early in the period, and Kindl opened the scoring less than a minute later. Kindl was caught between two Oilers when he managed a shot that slipped through goalie Devan Dubnyk and trickled across the line for a 1-0 lead.
The worst was still to come for Edmonton.
“They dominated us for 10 minutes after that and then they got the 2-0 goal and the game was lost,” Oilers coach Ralph Krueger said. “There’s no excuses for this one. You cannot stop playing for 10 minutes against the Detroit Red Wings and expect to get points.”
The Red Wings added their second goal after some sustained pressure when Emmerton took a pass from Drew Miller and beat Dubnyk high to the stick side from the slot.
“I think I kind of got lost in the change and came in a little bit higher than they expected, but it’s nice to get that little bit of open space,” Emmerton said. “You don’t really get those open-ice chances too often, especially right in the slot.”
Howard had to make a couple of terrific saves against the Avalanche and came within 90 seconds of a shutout in that game. He wasn’t tested as much by Edmonton, even after the Oilers pulled their goalie with more than 2 minutes remaining.
Abdelkader’s empty-netter was his first goal of the season.
“That’s a pretty complete game for us. We didn’t give up very much,” Babcock said. “Obviously, in this last run we’ve had, we’ve played way better defensively. I think with the exception of our last game, we played real well.”
Detroit plays eight of its next 10 games on the road — a tough stretch for a team that’s still in a pretty muddled race for playoff position.
“We’re 5-1-1 in the last seven and it feels like we haven’t moved at all,” Emmerton said. “One day we’re in fourth and the next day we’re in 10th, so every game is huge. Obviously, only Anaheim and Chicago are the only two teams who are really running away with it. So it’s going to be a grind right down for that kind of fourth spot right to eight.”
NOTES: Detroit had 28 shots on goal. … The Red Wings scored more than two goals for the first time in five games, but they’ve lost only once in regulation during that span. … Edmonton’s Taylor Hall was called for high-sticking 56 seconds into the game — and that was the only power play for either team. … It was Howard’s 13th career shutout.