The Red Wings needed this game to balance their post-Olympics math, to avoid having to cram even harder.

They managed to pass Friday night at Joe Louis Arena with a 2-1 shootout victory over the Edmonton Oilers, though it was hardly a textbook performance of how to play well this time of year.

“I felt like whole game was sloppy,” Tomas Tatar said after scoring in the shoot-out with a pretty deke move and having set up the regulation goal. “We weren’t as good, they weren’t good, too, and it was just not really good game. But we are happy with the two points, that’s all that matters right now.”

The Wings estimated they’d need to win two out of every three games coming out of the Olympics, and improved to 4-3-1 after overcoming the Oilers, a team that had played the night before and long has been out of the playoff picture. The bad part about the victory coming in a shoot-out is that regulation or overtime victories are the first tie-breaker, and the Wings only have 25 of those, fewer than any teams they are chasing in the Eastern Conference race.

Where Tatar was the hero with the puck in Edmonton’s end, Jimmy Howard was stellar in his end, the first to stop Jordan Eberle in a shoot-out this season.

“Howard bailed us out there, which is real positive for us,” coach Mike Babcock said. “I don’t think Eberle had missed all year, so it was great to see that happen, and it gives him some confidence, gives us some confidence. We can relax and play a bit.”

Howard made 21 saves through regulation, not a lot, but the Oilers did a good job buzzing him. The only goal allowed came off a gobsmacking turnover by Brendan Smith, who set up Ryan Smyth’s third-period goal.

Howard called the Oilers dangerous because they can afford to play loosely, having nothing left to gain. “They made us work for everything. We were able to get the extra point in the shoot-out, and that’s all that matters.”

The Wings took a one-goal lead into the third period but offered so little threat it was only a matter of time before the Oilers struck. Riley Sheahan provided Detroit an early lead, scoring his fifth goal of the season in the first period. Babcock said he thought the Wings “tried real hard” to play their structure, “but I didn’t think either team was real smooth. It was just kind of a grind test. Obviously we turned the puck over there for a goal, but we tried to do a lot of good things. I’d like to see us score on the 4-on-3.”

That overtime power play might have gone differently had big Johan Franzen been in front of the net and not much smaller Gustav Nyquist; all that ended up happening was a shot from Daniel Alfredsson from the left circle. The Wings went 0-for-4 with the man advantage overall, having barely any decent looks.

The Wings didn’t look good from the start of the game, out-skated by a team that regularly loses. They looked better thanks to Tatar and Sheahan, with Tatar sending the puck out front for Sheahan. Sheahan and Drew Miller were both cutting to the net.