The Detroit Red Wings dropped a 4-3 overtime decision to the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday night but the standings point gained in the loss was enough to clinch a playoff spot.
Minutes after the Canadiens finished off the Red Wings, the Florida Panthers completed a 4-2 win over the Boston Bruins, ensuring that the Bruins would be unable to pass Detroit in the standings and putting the Red Wings in the postseason for the 24th consecutive campaign.
Lars Eller gave Montreal the victory at 1:21 of overtime when his shot from the left wing was seemingly deflected by the stick of Detroit defenseman Kyle Quincey and flew past goaltender Jimmy Howard.
The Canadiens had forced overtime with a five-on-three goal with 8:21 remaining in regulation. Tomas Plekanec threw a low-angle shot from the right wing towards Howard and it slipped through, tying the game at three goals apiece.
Tomas Tatar had opened the game’s scoring with 9:41 left in the first period. Pavel Datsyuk carried the puck into the Montreal zone down the right side and Tatar raced down the left side, wide open off a line change. Datsyuk got him the puck for a quick snap past Montreal goalie Carey Price.
Andrei Markov tied things up with 2:24 left in the opening period, blasting a shot from the blue line through traffic and past Howard for a 1-1 game.
Montreal made it 2-1 with 6:24 of the second period when defenseman Jeff Petry jumped up to join the rush and take a feed from Torrey Mitchell in the slot, snapping a shot past Howard.
Datsyuk responded just 1:43 later, carrying the puck through the slot and faking around Alexei Emelin before whipping the puck past Price.
Detroit regained the lead at 3:34 of the final frame when Darren Helm outraced P.K. Subban on a shorthanded breakaway and beat Price to make it 3-2.
Price finished the night with 24 saves on 27 shots while Howard made 22 stops on 26 chances.
Plekanec’s goal was the only power play tally of the game. Montreal had four tries with the extra attacker to Detroit’s five.
The Red Wings close out their season on Saturday when they visit the Carolina Hurricanes.