One point was all the Detroit Red Wings needed to clinch a 23rd consecutive playoff berth.
One point was what they got.
The Pittsburgh Penguins won 4-3 in a shootout, but the Red Wings picked up their 91st point of the season to clinch a playoff berth Wednesday.
The last time the Red Wings did not make the playoffs Joakim Andersson, Luke Glendening, Gustav Nyquist, Riley Sheahan, Tomas Tatar, Danny DeKeyser and Brian Lashoff each were barely or a little more than 1 year old.
And fittingly enough, these were the guys who led the 2013-14 Red Wings to a 23rd consecutive playoff berth.
The Red Wings dominated the overtime period with multiple scoring chances, but ultimately, had to settle for a shootout.
The Red Wings also dominated the first period outshooting the Penguins 13-4, but could only muster a 1-0 lead after 20 minutes. Detroit outshot Pittsburgh 37-24 for the game and was playing like a team that was desperate for points.
It was a nice change from Tuesday night’s game against Buffalo in which the Red Wings took a period-and-a-half to get going against one of the worst teams in the NHL.
The Red Wings’ first goal came as Daniel Alfredsson hit Fleury in the facemask, the puck caromed off the glass and took a bounce in the slot right to Tomas Jurco, who buried it for his eighth goal of the year.
Detroit continued to keep the pressure on the Penguins in the second period, but a dumb interference penalty by Luke Glendening would prove to be costly. On the ensuing power play, Sidney Crosby drew defenders toward him on the rush, dished the puck off to James Neal, who made a nice move on Jonas Gustavsson to tie the game at 1-1.
The Penguins were 2 of 4 on the power play, a power play that was ranked second in the league at 23.3 coming into tonight’s game.
Later in the second period, the Kid Line of Tatar, Sheahan and Nyquist had a great shift moving the puck well and making the Penguins chase them all over the offensive zone. Jakub Kindl ripped a shot from the point that beat Fleury and gave the Red Wings a 2-1 lead.
However, just a little more than two minutes later, Neal scored his second power-play goal of the game as he ripped a slapper past Gustavsson from the faceoff circle after a David Legwand high sticking penalty.
The Columbus Blue Jackets made up their game against the Dallas Stars that was postponed March 10 due to Rich Peverley’s cardiac event. The Blue Jackets started the game with a 1-0 lead — the goal Nathan Horton scored in that postponed game — and added two more to get the 3-1 win.
With that win, the Blue Jackets clinched a playoff berth and moved ahead of the Red Wings in the standings with 91 points, as Columbus holds the tiebreaker for more wins in regulation and overtime. Both teams have two games remaining.
The Red Wings host the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday. Even though they accomplished goal No. 1 of making the playoffs, goal No. 2 is to secure that seventh seed.
I can’t stress enough how clinching that seventh spot will make the Red Wings’ lives exponentially easier as far as their chances of advancing in the playoffs.
Columbus faces Tampa Bay on Friday and Florida on Saturday, so it’s pretty safe to assume it will take at least one of those two games.
The Red Wings travel to St. Louis to take on the Blues for the season finale on Sunday.
Final note: This was the shootout goal that gave the Penguins the win. Imagine if that goal had knocked a team out of the playoffs.