Banged-up Red Wings beat Oilers 2-1 in SO

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DETROIT (AP) - The Detroit Red Wings are desperate for wins as they try to get into the playoffs for the 23rd straight time.

On a night in which they barely beat the worst team in the Western Conference, coach Mike Babcock didn’t diminish the importance of the much-needed victory.

Tomas Tatar scored on Detroit’s third shootout attempt, and Jimmy Howard stopped all three Edmonton attempts to lift the Red Wings to a 2-1 win over the Oilers on Friday night.

“Huge,” Babcock said. “Howie, obviously, in the shootout, bailing us out was a real positive for us.

“It gives us some confidence.”

Howard finished with 21 saves.

Edmonton’s Ryan Smyth tied the game midway through the third period. Smyth scored on a shot from the slot that was set up by Detroit defenseman Brendan Smith’s backhanded giveaway.

“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.”

Riley Sheahan put the Red Wings ahead 1-0 late in the first period. They lost the lead and failed to take advantage of power plays late in regulation and midway through overtime.

The banged-up Red Wings are missing numerous key players, including Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg, because of injuries and that is forcing players such as Sheahan to go from prospects to NHL players.

Sheahan, who played only once in the league in each of the previous two years, said playing 26 games for the Red Wings has made him more comfortable.

“Every day is a little step further,” he said. “The guys have been awesome. It’s a fun atmosphere and a great team to play for.”

Edmonton’s franchise is far from the greatness it enjoyed decades ago and is close to being eliminated from the playoff race for the eighth straight season.

Oilers coach Dallas Eakins, though, has been pleased with how much effort his players appear to be giving despite their place in the standings.

“What we’ve been preaching to them and they understand, down the stretch are the building blocks for training camp,” Eakins said. “We don’t want to go into full-teaching mode when we hit training camp. We want to hit the ground running and have a foundation on how we’re going to play. On a lot of nights, we’re starting to see how we want to play.

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