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Where they Stand: After win over Sabres

Red Wings go up three points on Blue Jackets who lost to Chicago on Friday

Friday, 04.4.2014 / 11:00 PM ET / News
By Bill Roose  - Managing Editor | DetroitRedWings.com
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Where they Stand: After win over Sabres
Niklas Kronwall and Daniel Alfredsson salute the fans after the Red Wings' 3-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres Friday at Joe Louis Arena. (Photo by Dave Reginek/Detroit Red Wings)

DETROIT – The Red Wings flirted with fire Friday night, but in the end their hot start proved to be enough against the out-manned Buffalo Sabres.

“I think the pace from us slowed down as the game went on,” said Daniel Alfredsson, who had the game-winner in the Red Wings’ 3-2 victory at Joe Louis Arena.

“We probably tried to protect the lead too much, not trying to get the fourth one,” he said. “They worked themselves into the game. They’re a dangerous team. They played pretty open, spread us out a bit. I thought down the stretch we did a good job. Last 6-7 minutes felt comfortable.”

The Red Wings have won four straight games, and taken points in nine of the past 12 contests that included benchmark wins over three of the top four teams in the East – Boston, Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay. The win gave the Wings a three-point lead in the standings over the Columbus Blue Jackets, who lost to Chicago, 4-3, on Friday.

“Obviously it was huge for the standings but we still have to get a few more wins here to get in,” forward Gustav Nyquist said. “I feel that every time we win the other teams win too. Everybody lost tonight which is nice to hear but obviously we have to get a few more wins. They’re going to play for their lives in the last few games and we’re going to have to find a way to get a few more wins.”

Two of the three closest teams chasing the Red Wings, including the Washington Capitals, lost one-goal games Friday night. Detroit (88 points) now has a three-point lead over the Jackets (85), while increasing its cushion over Toronto (84), who was idle Friday, and New Jersey (82) and Washington (81).

The Jackets are clinging to a one-point lead over Toronto for the second wild-card spot but they lost in the most demoralizing way possible Friday. With 3.9 seconds left in regulation, the Blackhawks’ Ben Smith was credit with the game winner in Chicago’s 4-3 victory when he swatted the puck in a scrum that eluded the Jackets goalie and two defensemen who were all in the crease.

After building a 3-0 lead in the first period, the Red Wings had to fight off a third-period surge by the Sabres, who have a league-low 51 points. Buffalo narrowed its gap to 3-2 when rookie Nicolas Deslauriers collected his first NHL goal at 6:40 of the final frame.

With five games remaining, including an Atlantic Division showdown in Montreal Saturday night, the Red Wings continue to feel the playoff pressure, and likely will until they secure a spot.

“I think we’ve been feeling it for forever, I think that’s a great thing,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “Pressure means you have an opportunity. If you had no pressure you’d be out or you’d be 20 points up. The reality is, is for us, we understand the situation we’re in. We look at the scoreboard every day.”

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 WSH 49 36 9 4 161 110 76
2 FLA 51 31 15 5 141 112 67
3 TBL 51 29 18 4 137 118 62
4 NYR 51 28 18 5 146 132 61
5 BOS 51 27 18 6 149 136 60
6 NYI 49 26 17 6 134 121 58
7 DET 51 25 18 8 125 130 58
8 NJD 52 26 20 6 117 118 58
9 PIT 50 25 18 7 129 128 57
10 CAR 53 24 21 8 129 141 56
11 PHI 49 23 18 8 117 128 54
12 MTL 52 24 24 4 137 141 52
13 OTT 52 23 23 6 142 164 52
14 TOR 50 19 22 9 116 134 47
15 BUF 52 21 26 5 119 137 47
16 CBJ 54 21 28 5 135 168 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
D. Larkin 50 17 18 23 35
H. Zetterberg 51 9 25 2 34
T. Tatar 50 14 16 -3 30
G. Nyquist 51 14 13 -4 27
J. Abdelkader 51 14 12 -4 26
P. Datsyuk 36 6 18 10 24
M. Green 45 3 17 -8 20
N. Kronwall 45 3 14 -10 17
D. DeKeyser 47 6 8 10 14
R. Sheahan 50 7 6 -15 13
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Mrazek 18 10 4 .931 2.06
J. Howard 7 8 4 .904 2.89