Red Wings turn 3-goal lead into 3-2 win over Sabres
DETROIT (AP) The Detroit Red Wings picked up two desperately needed points, boosting their chances of extending the franchise's playoff streak to 25 straight seasons.
Dylan Larkin, Riley Sheahan and Luke Glendening scored, and the Red Wings held on for a 3-2 victory against the Buffalo Sabres on Monday night.
''Every point counts now,'' Detroit center Pavel Datsyuk said. ''It's good that we won.''
The Red Wings pulled within a point of Boston for the third and final guaranteed spot from the Atlantic Division. Both teams have six games left in the regular season.
Detroit is tied with Philadelphia for the second wild card in the Eastern Conference, but the Flyers have one more game to earn at least a point. Philadelphia beat Winnipeg 3-2 in overtime on Monday night.
''As long as we take care of ourselves, we'll be all right,'' Jimmy Howard said after making 18 saves for the win.
Howard gave up goals to Zemgus Girgensons and Sam Reinhart in a 61-second span late in the game. He faced just nine shots through two periods before the Sabres got 11 shots on net in the third.
Buffalo's Chad Johnson stopped 26 shots, but his team simply couldn't generate much offense until the final few minutes.
''You wait that long against a team like that, that's desperation,'' Reinhart said. ''Unfortunately, it took too long.''
The Red Wings got off to a listless start in front of a quiet crowd.
Larkin fired up the red-clad fans, scoring on a power play with 1:28 left in the first period. He has a team-high 22 goals and ranks among its leaders with 44 points, the most by a Red Wings rookie since Henrik Zetterberg finished with the same total during the 2002-03 season.
Sheahan scored unassisted midway through the second, taking the puck from deep in the Detroit end and shooting a wrist shot from the top of the left circle that got past Johnson's glove.
''It was a beautiful goal, probably one of the nicest we've had as a team this year,'' Larkin said. ''It was good to see the patience he had and see him let go of his great shot. He's got a real heavy shot.''
The Sabres pulled Johnson for the first time with a few minutes left to add an extra skater and Glendening took advantage of the chance to shoot into an empty net. They did avoid a shutout nine seconds later with Girgensons' off-balance shot and suddenly turned a lopsided game into a close one with Reinhart's goal. Buffalo created chances in the final seconds, but couldn't get the puck past Howard.
Buffalo also lost a key player during the game.
Sabres forward Evander Kane, who has 20 goals and 15 assists, didn't play in the third period because of an upper-body injury. Coach Dan Bylsma said he doubts Kane will be in the lineup Tuesday night at Pittsburgh.
''He played a handful of shifts with the injury and just wasn't able to continue,'' Bylsma said. ''He's day to day right now.''
NOTES: The Red Wings celebrated Gordie Howe's 88th birthday, which is Thursday, during the first period by signing ''Happy Birthday,'' to the Hall of Famer and presenting him with a cake. ... The Sabres will be relegated to watching the playoffs for the fifth straight year. ... Detroit D Brendan Smith was a healthy scratch. ... Red Wings assistant coach Tony Granato acknowledged he has had talks with Wisconsin about being its coach, but said nothing has been finalized.