Kind of hard to do postgame notes on a night when the lone point the Red Wings earned clinched the team’s 23rd consecutive playoff appearance. In the end, that point is all that mattered. Two would have been nice and the Wings are now in a quick battle with the Blue Jackets for playoff seeding, but the team can drop the last two games and their season will still go beyond next Sunday.
I guess I’ll work backwards?
The minute I saw Jussi Jokinen’s shootout goal, I knew it would hold up as the winner. Jonas Gustavsson successfully poke-checks the puck away only for it to pop up, flutter over him and in? That was the kind of ridiculousness this game deserved as a finish.
A similarly wacky bounce tied things up with 1:15 left in regulation, as Riley Sheahan’s shot from the point was deflected, floated over Marc-Andre Fleury, off the crossbar and in. The play kind of summed up Detroit’s season, as the Kid Line was out there for a crucial faceoff in the offensive zone in the closing seconds and came through. Sheahan beat Sidney Crosby on the faceoff the started the play off. These guys weren’t even supposed to be on the team this year (okay, Tatar was on the roster but a healthy scratch to start the season) and they got the Wings into the playoffs.
Detroit seemed to be heading home with no points earlier in the period, when Jokinen found the loose puck off a Kris Letang chance and knocked it home to put the Penguins up 3-2. Letang’s shot slipped through Gustavsson, who thought he had it covered, and Jokinen got to it before anyone else realized it was still live to give Pittsburgh its first lead.
James Neal scored both of Pittsburgh’s previous goals early in power play opportunities. Tomas Jurco and Jakub Kindl scored for Detroit.
I’ve gotta say, I thought Kindl’s goal could have come back for goalie interference. I guess the Wings are only owed about seven more of those at this point.
But as I said off the top, the loser point is all that matters tonight. With it, they sit eighth in the East, tied with Columbus but the Blue Jackets have the tiebreaker. Detroit hosts Carolina (a game they should win) and visits St. Louis (a game they should lose). Columbus visits Tampa (a game they should lose) and Florida (a game they should win). The Jackets’ finish up on Saturday while Detroit does on Sunday, so the Wings will go into their last game knowing what they need to do.