Well, with the late penalty the Red Wings certainly didn’t make it easy on themselves, but for once a one-goal lead heading into the third period didn’t herald a collapse as they actually padded the lead for a 4-2 win in Toronto.
With his first career hat trick, Darren Helm is easily the game’s number one star and top story. I joke a lot about how he can’t finish (in fact, he was stoned on a breakaway just seconds before scoring his first goal of the night off a steal and feed from Joakim Andersson) but his backhand was good tonight, accounting for his first and third goals. The second was a right-place-right-time deflection of a Jakub Kindl shot that actually broke his stick.
Second star of the night I’m going with Jimmy Howard. He made some fantastic stops to keep his team both in it and out front, depending on the time. I know he’s played a ton lately but with how crucial points are right now and how well he’s been playing, I think you have to give him the nod again tomorrow.
Third star normally would be Gustav Nyquist with a goal in seven of the last eight games. Instead I’m looking at Brendan Smith. How different is this game if he doesn’t clear the puck off the goal line on that goofy-ass play when Nyquist sent it back to Howard and it slipped through him? Three or four months ago, Smith watches that go in because he’s not paying enough attention to make the jump in that he did tonight.
Huge two points, as the Wings retain the Eastern Conference’s eighth seed. Columbus beat Carolina in OT and Washington fell to Boston so the four-way tie has become a two-way tie and the Blue Jackets have the tiebreaker against Detroit.
Not to be forgotten (though I’ve been harping about it on Twitter so that’s not likely), the win gives Mike Babcock 410 regular season wins as head coach of Detroit, tying him for second-most overall with Scotty Bowman, just three back of Jack Adams for first.