There is a path to the postseason for the Red Wings but they need help

The Detroit Red Wings need to handle their business with Montreal on Monday and Tuesday, but also need some help if they hope to qualify for the postseason.
Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Red Wings found a way to defeat the mighty Toronto Maple Leafs this past Saturday in a nailbiter. The Red Wings blew a 4-1 lead and just a regulation loss away from being eliminated from playoff contention but came up big late in the third period and overtime to secure a big-time road victory.

The Red Wings were forced to kill off a late third-period penalty thanks to a Patrick Kane high stick. In fact, it was Kane's second high-sticking infraction of the game. The first was of the four-minute fashion as he tried to lift a stick but missed and got all face. That became a big momentum changer for the Maple Leafs, who were down 4-2 at the time. Toronto scored just over a minute before the penalty to Kane and scored on the ensuing power play attempt.

The second infraction came with just over two minutes left in the third period, with the game tied at four, again with a regulation loss squashing Detroit's playoff hopes; it's just a penalty that a player, especially a veteran player, can't take. Luckily, the Red Wings were able to clamp down and kill it off to save their season.

Just after the successful kill, Alex DeBrincat was hooked and hauled down my Max Domi, which allowed the Red Wings a power play to begin overtime, and Dylan Larkin redirected a Patrick Kane pass through netminder Ilya Samsonov for a massive two points. "It was one of the biggest of my career and I’m hoping this year to have some more big goals," Larkin said. "You can’t feel any better. I knew Kaner was going to look for that play and I knew I just had to have my stick on the ice and he was going to hit it. I didn’t even see it go in, but I saw Kaner, how excited he was, see all the boys rush over. What a feeling."

"We know what’s at stake,"Larkin said."We kept saying, we need the two points. To get to this point, I’m not happy we’re in this position, fighting for our lives, but in Pittsburgh and at home against Washington, we’ve been fighting for our lives here. The sacrifice, the attitude of the guys has been unbelievable. We got rewarded for all the hard work we’ve done the last stretch here where we haven’t been getting rewarded."

The Detroit Red Wings need to win back-to-back games against Montreal and get some help to qualify for the postseason.

As of Monday, the Detroit Red Wings currently sit with 87 points, tied with the Washington Capitals and Philadelphia Flyers. The Pittsburgh Penguins have 86 points. The Penguins, Capitals, and Red Wings each have a game in hand on the Flyers. The catch here is that the Capitals own the tiebreaker with 30 regulation wins over Detroit's 27, meaning the Red Wings need Washington to lose at least one of their final two games, and the Red Wings need to win both against Montreal to assure themselves that final spot.

The Capitals play the Boston Bruins on Monday and finish the year at Philadelphia. The Penguins host the Nashville Predators on Monday and close out their season on the road against the New York Islanders.

Following Detroit's heroic overtime win in Toronto, Red Wings head coach Derek Lalonde spoke about his teams' poise and their compete level. "You’re just kind of in the moment, and this group has done it all year long," coach Derek Lalonde said. "I love their mentality. They stay poised in a lot of situations. As great as we were at the end of the third, to get that kill and to get a power play in overtime, I loved our approach in the third. It was a very emotional rollercoaster: We get the 4-1 lead, and then our second period – we just stressed about staying on task in the third. I thought our third period was excellent, and we got what we deserved: Two full points. 

"This group, I get it, we’re not perfect like anyone else battling for this last playoff spot. The self-evaluation in the offseason, there’ll be a lot to look at. It’s been a unique up-and-down season. But it would be really hard, really hard, to knock this teams compete and mental toughness. That’s pretty impressive."