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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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AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 PLAYOFFS
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
T. Tatar 5 0 3 1 3
M. Green 5 1 1 -1 2
A. Athanasiou 5 1 0 1 1
G. Nyquist 5 1 0 2 1
H. Zetterberg 5 1 0 3 1
J. Abdelkader 5 1 0 -3 1
B. Richards 5 1 0 -4 1
D. Helm 5 1 0 -1 1
D. Larkin 5 1 0 -2 1
N. Kronwall 5 0 1 3 1
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Mrazek 1 2 0 .945 1.36
J. Howard 0 2 0 .891 3.59