The loss to the Rangers ended the Red Wings regular season but not their road to the playoffs. New York got two late goals in the third period to beat the Detroit 3-2 at Madison Square Garden Saturday afternoon. The loss by the Boston Bruins gave Detroit a secure spot to finish third in the Atlantic Division securing their place in the postseason for a 25th consecutive year.
It was do or die for the Red Wings after taking a horrible loss to the Boston Bruins. Their 5-2 defeat killed their chance to clinch a playoff spot making their 82nd game the most important one that could determine the fate of their 24-year consecutive playoff streak. Going against the Rangers will be difficult since Jimmy Howard beat them in a 1-0 shutout back in February. They found themselves tied the New York Islanders with 99 points and held the first wild card spot in the Metropolitan Division. With their fate similar to Detroit’s; winning will also help determine whom they will face in the first round.
The Red Wings came out big in the first few minutes with the Detroit lines fighting hard for possession. After two minutes of play, Joakim Andersson got the play running make a pass to Luke Glendening. The young forward took a shot on net but couldn’t get one through Rangers netminder Antti Raanta. A rebound came to Andersson but all of their efforts were killed as he began to playoff off sides during the Rangers challenge negating the goal.
The loss of being ahead took its toll on Detroit as they and trouble producing more chances to the New York net. The Rangers pounce on the opportunity finding more time with the puck killing off time from the clock. The shots on net weren’t coming from either team as holding control of the puck was problematic. For the Rangers it became a time to strike with four minutes left in the period. They caught an advantage on a 2 on 1 during 4 on 4 play where Dan Boyle went in alongside Chris Kreider getting past Alexey Marchenko for Boyle to score his 10th.
It was a big moment for New York as they ended 20 minutes on top while Detroit struggled to generate scoring chances and second opportunities from their shots. They led 8-7 and did well on the face offs but giving the puck away seven times became their biggest issue to fix right away.
Detroit exploded in the second period taking some push to control the puck and pressure deep into the Rangers zone. Seven minutes went by and Detroit had New York shut down on shots to the net as they tallied eight looking to tie up the game. It came on a drive from the back end where Pavel Datsyuk delivered a drive that got a piece of Riley Sheahan making a screen on Raanta for his 14th.
A power play for the Rangers came to their hands after the game got leveled but the Red Wings played a strong PK to keep things at status quo. Despite the trouble of gaining the go ahead, Detroit clearly had a solid run nearing the end of the period taking a 15-4 hold on shots to Raanta.
With the third period in play and both teams in a tie, every minute became crucial for either one to take the lead. For Detroit, their push on offense continued in the opening minutes wanting nothing more than to take the lead and be the ones in control. By the midpoint they were up on shots to the net but weren’t find great chances to overtake.
New York woke up knowing how much time was on the clock and in a moment of opportunity, the Rangers struck big to go out front. Dylan McIlrath fired a shot from the boards where a redirect on the stick of Kevin Hayes made it their lead and his 14th.
5:38 was left in the game and with the Rangers up by a goal their attempts would not stop, as keeping their hold over Detroit was now their sole mission. The teams went back to playing even strength hockey with very little whistles being blown. At 2:42, Coach Jeff Blashill pulled Howard from the net to try and give six attackers an opportunity to even the game. It didn’t go that way as the Rangers got the puck into the neutral zone before taking a slide of the puck by Oscar Linberg who scored the empty netter for his 13th.
The Detroit veterans had to step up quick to lower the two goal margin they found themselves in. Justin Abdelkader became the hope for the team as he
He then took a hit in the Rangers crease that put them on a two minute power play to end the period. Howard was once again pulled with just over a minute left in what looked to be a final chance to force overtime and get a win despite the obvious going on in their division. Another big chance arrived with 19 seconds left as Marc Staal tripped up Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg giving Detroit a 6 on 3 man advantage.
The lopsided total of men on the ice clearly gave Detroit the leverage but the Rangers played well on the last faceoff clearing the puck away to end the game with the victory. Despite the loss for Detroit, Boston’s self destruction allowed them to clinch a playoff spot and finish third in the division.