The last day of the regular season in the National Hockey League rarely feels like a regular season game. The Detroit Red Wings and the Chicago Blackhawks were both fighting for playoff position, and it showed. Niether of these teams needs any extra motivation to pound on the other, but the playoff implications of this contest meant incredibly intense hockey, and my heart skipping multiple beats.
Patrick Kane went 5-hole past Jimmy Howard in the shootout to give the Blackhawks the 3-2 win, but the game going into overtime gave Detroit a point which meant Chicago could not catch them in the standings, and the Blackhawks will be the 6th seed going into the Western Conference playoffs. The Red Wings’ fate was not sealed until the final save by Corey Crawford, giving Detroit the loss and sealing their fate as the #5 seed in the West. The Red Wings will open the playoffs this week in Nashville against the Predators.
The Red Wings fell behind for the 6th game in a row, something they will need to correct if they have any plans of lifting a 12th Stanley Cup. Detroit buckled down after falling behind 2-0 in the second period in large part thanks to Jimmy Howard standing on his head to keep the deficit at two. Howard made 31 saves, but none were bigger than his efforts in the final seconds of regulation to send the game into overtime.
Pavel Datsyuk tied the game with 47 seconds left from a pretty no look pass in front of the goal from Tomas Holmstrom. Holmstrom had trouble getting in front of the goal for most of the afternoon, but the Red Wings were able to create chances every time that he did.