It had to be exciting right down to the end, but the Red Wings moved to within a point of clinching a playoff spot tonight with their 4-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres.
Okay, maybe exciting is the wrong word. Stressful? This was certainly not the most exciting game, certainly not the best game, but the two points that came out of it are all that matter.
Detroit had chances early, plenty of power play time in the first period, but it was Buffalo getting on the board first on a deflection in the second period and suddenly things look worrisome. Brendan Smith ties it on a really nice shot from the high slot, but 1-1 after two still doesn’t look great for the Wings given the chances they’d blown.
Off a Sabres turnover, Darren Helm drives to the net to get Detroit the lead and the Wings go into a pretty solid lockdown. When David Legwand makes it 3-1 in the closing minutes, it looks a lot better. Nothing is ever safe in the third for Detroit, though, as Zemgus Girgensons makes a nice move around Niklas Kronwall and it’s a one goal game again. Pavel Datsyuk chucks the puck down ice from his own blue line and into the empty net in the closing seconds to wrap things up.
Not perfect but two points.
That, combined with Columbus’ win, Toronto’s loss, and Carolina’s loss means that Ottawa, Toronto, and Carolina were all mathematically eliminated tonight. Washington stayed alive with a win over St. Louis and the Blue Jackets kept pace with Detroit, one point back. The Eastern Conference’s wild card spots are down to two of Detroit, Columbus, New Jersey and Washington. Columbus and Detroit both play tomorrow.