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Stanley Cup Playoffs : Red Wings Avoid Letdown This Time and Win, 5-2

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Associated Press

This time, the Detroit Red Wings remembered that a hockey game lasts three periods.

After blowing a 3-1 lead in the final period of a 5-3 loss in Game 2, the Red Wings avoided a letdown in a similar situation Saturday night, downing the Edmonton Oilers, 5-2, in Game 3 of the Campbell Conference finals.

“There were no letdowns this time,” said Detroit Coach Jacques Demers after the emotion-charged victory before 19,873 roaring fans cut the Oilers’ lead in the best-of-seven series to 2-1. Game 4 is Monday night in Detroit.

“Over nine periods, we’ve certainly played very well. Tonight, we didn’t make the mistakes.”

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It was almost a replica of Game 2 in Edmonton, when the Oilers rallied to win by scoring three goals in the first five minutes of the third period.

The Red Wings also held a 3-1 lead Saturday night--and also gave up an early third-period goal to the Oilers when Wayne Gretzky scored at 1:10 on the power play.

This time, though, the Red Wings shut down the Oilers.

“We were able to take the play back to them this time,” said Brent Ashton, who scored two goals for the Red Wings, including the go-ahead score late in the second period.

Demers said the team drew some inspiration from Steve Yzerman, playing for the first time since a knee injury knocked him out of action on March 1.

Yzerman, the Wings’ captain, played 12 shifts for 13:24 and assisted on Ashton’s first goal, a power-play tally that tied the score midway through the first period.

While Yzerman said he felt sluggish, his presence made a difference because it allowed Demers to free other players for different line combinations.

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Detroit’s big line was Ashton, Adam Oates and Dave Barr, which accounted for six points.

The loss was the first in nine games for the Oilers in the playoffs. Overall, they have won 10 of 12 games.

Gretzky had both of Edmonton’s goals.

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