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Sheahan makes his point with late goal

Despite shootout loss, the Red Wings qualified for the Stanley Cup playoffs

Thursday, 04.10.2014 / 12:34 AM ET / News
By Bill Roose  - Managing Editor |
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Sheahan makes his point with late goal
Rookie Tomas Jurco reacts to Riley Sheahan's goal late in the third period that tied the score for the Red Wings, who managed to lock up a playoff berth Wednesday. (Photo by Getty Images)

PITTSBURGH – Mission accomplished.

In what can only be described as one of the most unpredictable seasons in recent memory, the Red Wings got what they came for on their short two-game trip – three points and a guaranteed spot in the upcoming Stanley Cup playoffs.

Riley Sheahan was credited with a bizarre game-tying goal with 1:15 left in regulation that lifted the Red Wings to a 23rd straight playoff berth. Sheahan’s shot from the right point skipped a few times before the puck fluttered over a stunted Pittsburgh goalie Marc-Andre Fleury.

The Wings eventually lost, 4-3, in a shootout when Penguins forward Jussi Jokinen scored the lone goal in the skills competition. But it didn’t dampen spirits inside the Red Wings’ locker room.

“They’re all satisfying every year,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “Obviously, we’ve had a tough go. Everyone gets injured. It’s just you can’t get injuries to too many of the wrong people and when we lost Pav (Pavel Datsyuk) and Z (Henrik Zetterberg) for so much of the year – I looked at it, those guys are going to play like 40 games (together) – that’s a chunk to have to play without your two best guys but the rest of the guys have stepped up.

“Our team is way better than it was at the start of the year because we got so many kids and they’ve won jobs and they’re going to keep their jobs.”

It appeared the Wings would lose before they had the chance to get a point when the Penguins took their lone lead in regulation, 3-2, on Jokinen’s goal at 9:17 of the third. But hope was restored on Sheahan’s even-strength tally when he covered Brendan Smith’s vacated spot and fired a knuckleball toward the net.

“I just saw Smitty go low so I went to cover his point,” Sheahan said. “Kronner (Niklas Kronwall) gave me a good pass, D-to-D I guess, and I got it on net where there was chaos in front and fortunately it went in.”

The Wings' 23-year streak still is just the fifth-longest in NHL history. Boston has the record at 29 seasons from 1967-68 to 1995-96. The San Jose Sharks have the next-longest active NHL streak at 10 straight appearances, including this season. The San Antonio Spurs have the next-longest current streak in the four major sports. It's at 17 seasons, including this season.

The eight playoff teams in the Eastern Conference have now been settled with Detroit and Columbus both claiming the final two spots Wednesday. By the Red Wings picking up a point and the Blue Jackets winning in Dallas, the Washington Capitals and New Jersey Devils were eliminated. Columbus and Detroit are tied with 91 points, but the Jackets hold the tie-breaker that would give them the first wild-card.

“It’s awesome,” Daniel Alfredsson said of making the playoffs in his first season with the Red Wings. “I think we worked extremely hard to get to this point and it feels great. I thought we played well enough to win today and it would have been even better but clinching a playoff spot is huge.”

The Red Wings dominated the Penguins through the first 40 minutes, but the teams were deadlocked at2-2 heading into the third period, despite Detroit holding a 22-10 edge in shots on goal. The Red Wings out-shot Pittsburgh, 13-4 in the first period, on its home ice where the Pens had lost five of the previous eight games.

“I thought we were better than them, we had a penalty kill sort out where they scored a goal but we carried the play for sure,” Babcock said. “We’re been playing well, we’re getting better, we look forward to being in the playoffs and whoever we get we’re excited to have.”

Detroit grabbed a 1-0 lead midway through the first period, striking first for the 40th time this season. Alfredsson’s initial shot ricocheted off the glass behind the Penguins’ net before landing in front of Fleury, and before the Pittsburgh goalie could locate the puck, Tomas Jurco took a back-handed swipe at it, propelling it passed Fleury.

The teams alternated scoring plays in the second period with the Penguins fighting back twice to even the scoreboard on a pair of James Neal power-play goals. The first game with Luke Glendening serving a minor penalty for interference when Sidney Crosby blitzed the Red Wings’ zone before dishing a pass off to Neal, who made a nice move to get Jonas Gustavsson to over-commit before the Pens’ forward tucked the puck into the open net at 9:03.

Jakub Kindl put the Red Wings ahead five minutes later with a blast from the right point. The Penguins may have well been short-handed on the play when defenseman Paul Martin was stranded in front of the Pittsburgh net for several moments without his stick. The Pens complained that Riley Sheahan was in the crease and interfered with Fleury but Kindl’s second goal of the season was allowed to stand.

Neal score his second power-play goal quicker than he did his first of the period. Sixteen seconds after David Legwand went to the penalty box for high-sticking, Neal fired a slap shot that beat Gustavsson at 16:42. Neal’s first goal came 24 seconds after Glendening was called for interference.

The game could have been a precursor to a first-round playoff series that would begin next week.

“I’m not spending a whole lot of time worrying about this stuff,” Babcock said. “We’re just in and whoever we get we’re going to be a tough out.”

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose




1 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 248 187 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 214 184 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 259 206 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 237 199 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 245 224 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 231 211 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 232 208 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 217 204 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 209 201 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 198 213 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 227 248 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 212 223 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 176 209 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 183 219 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 206 257 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 153 269 54


H. Zetterberg 77 17 49 -6 66
P. Datsyuk 63 26 39 12 65
T. Tatar 82 29 27 6 56
G. Nyquist 82 27 27 -11 54
J. Abdelkader 71 23 21 3 44
N. Kronwall 80 9 35 -4 44
R. Sheahan 79 13 23 -3 36
D. Helm 75 15 18 7 33
D. DeKeyser 80 2 29 11 31
S. Weiss 52 9 16 -2 25
J. Howard 23 13 11 .910 2.44
P. Mrazek 16 9 2 .918 2.38 is the official Web site of the Detroit Red Wings. Detroit Red Wings and are trademarks of the Detroit Red Wings. NHL, the NHL Shield and the word mark NHL Winter Classic are registered trademarks and Original Six is a trademark of the National Hockey League. All NHL logos and marks and NHL team logos and marks as well as all other proprietary materials depicted herein are the property of the NHL and the respective NHL teams and may not be reproduced without the prior written consent of NHL Enterprises, L.P. Copyright © 1999-2015 Detroit Red Wings and the National Hockey League. All Rights Reserved.
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