— Chuck Pleiness (@wingsfrontman) March 21, 2014
DETROIT >> Thanks to the aid of the Pittsburgh defense, the Detroit Red Wings picked up what could prove to be a very important two points, Thursday night at Joe Louis Arena.
The Wings had three shots deflect off Penguins d-men and then got a fourth when another took a spill at center ice as they skated by Pittsburgh, 5-4.
“That’s the way it goes sometimes,” said Daniel Alfredsson, who had two goals one of which was the game winner with just four-tenths of a second left to play in overtime. “You do a lot of good things, you get lucky. We’ve been on the other side of those a few times, this time it feels great to be able to pull out a big win tonight against a good team.”
Alfredsson’s winner went off Rob Scuderi, who redirected in a rebound off Marc-Andre Fleury’s pad.
“I didn’t know there was just a few seconds left, but I know I didn’t hear the horn go off before the puck went in so I thought it would be good,” said Alfredsson, who now has back-to-back game winner goals for the Wings have going nine straight without scoring. “Big break for us, rebound goes off their D and in so we’ll gladly take it today.”
Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar and Todd Bertuzzi also scored for Detroit and Jimmy Howard made 39 saves.
Evgeni Malkin had a pair of goals for the Penguins, while Lee Stempniak and Craig Adams had the others. Fleury stopped 25 shots.
The win moves the Wings a point behind the New York Rangers for the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference and three points behind Toronto.
“This is huge,” Luke Glendening said. “We need to get on a roll here. We’re battling for our playoff lives every day and to get two points is absolutely huge for us.”
Detroit has a game-in-hand on the Rangers and two on the Maple Leafs.
“The reality is we needed the points,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “When you look at their lineup, obviously they’ve got four forwards that are world-class and so you know you’re going to have your hands full. If you’d have told me we were going to win by this score, I’d have said, ‘2-1, yeah, but not this way’. So good win for our team.”
After losing Jonathan Ericsson to a broken finger on Tuesday, the Wings have lost a player to injury in six consecutive games. They are also playing without the likes of Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg.
“We had more than enough opportunities to win that game,” Sidney Crosby said. “We got more shots and got some great chances. Sometimes you pay for your mistakes and we didn’t get away with some things.”
At the end of regulation and into overtime, the Wings had to kill off a five-minute butt-ending penalty assessed to David Legwand on Malkin.
“We weren’t sure how much time was left there but Keith, our video guy, said it was in pretty fast after he looked at it,” Nyquist said. “So we knew it was a goal before the call was made. It was great to see, and again, the kill at the end when we had to kill off that five-minute penalty was just huge. The guys just sacrificed, blocking shots and Howie stepping up big back there, it was great to see.”
The teams combined for three goals in a span of four minutes and 18 seconds midway through the third period with the Wings netting two of them to tie the game.
Wings took the lead with a pair of goals 2:18 apart.
Tatar tied the game with both teams down a man after James Neal was sent off for interference after sliding Luke Glendening’s stick to the boards.
Taking advantage of Olli Maatta falling down at center ice, Riley Sheahan raced onto a loose puck and fed a pretty cross-ice pass to Tatar, who chipped it by Fleury just before the halfway point of the third period.
Bertuzzi then put Detroit ahead just 2:18 later banking a pass off the leg of Maatta.
But that lead was short one when Brandon Sutter found a wide open Adams with a pass from behind the net to beat Howard cleanly with a one-timer.
Howard kept it a one-goal deficit for the Wings, stopping Brandon Sutter on a breakaway early in the period and then coming up big with two more stops on a Detroit power play moments later.
The Wings made it 2-0 on the power play early in the second period on a goal from their hottest player.
Alfredsson fed the puck down low to Nyquist, who was camped out to the left of Fleury. The Swede then tried to feed a pass across the crease to fellow Swede Johan Franzen, but the puck hit Penguins defenseman Rob Scuderi’s stick to beat an unsuspecting Fleury.
Nyquist has 15 goals and 11 assists in his last 22 games.
Pittsburgh tied things up with a pair of goal just 25 seconds apart from Stempniak and Malkin and then went ahead on Malkin’s second of the period just 2:16 later to put the Penguins up 3-2.
Stempniak got Pittsburgh to within a goal before the end of the second period, redirecting in the shot from the point from Chris Kunitz as he was falling down in front of Howard after receiving a crosscheck from behind by Kyle Quincey.
Just 25 seconds later, Malkin skated behind the net to grab a loose puck and bank one in off Howard.
Then, on a 5-on-3 man advantage, Malkin fired a bomb from just inside the blue line that Howard had no chance on.
After killing off a Penguins power play, which is the second best in the league, to begin the game, Alfredsson opened the scoring just under two minutes later.
Taking a feed from Johan Franzen outside Pittsburgh’s zone, Alfredsson faked a wrist shot before unloading one over Fleury’s glove hand while his teammate drew the attention of two Penguin defenders towards him.
Alfredsson has scored a goal in each of the last two games after going nine straight without out.
He also has 23 goals and 66 points in 66 career games against Pittsburgh.
— Chuck Pleiness (@wingsfrontman) March 21, 2014