The Detroit Red Wings came into the final game of the season needing one point to secure a playoff spot for the 22nd consecutive year. The Dallas Stars, who were eliminated from playoff contention Thursday night, played the role of spoiler as the two teams met in Dallas to end the regular season. From the very beginning it was obvious which team wanted to win this game more.
Henrik Zetterberg, the Detroit captain, made sure the Red Wings playoff streak would not end. Zetterberg had two goals and an assist in the 3-0 victory over the Stars. The captain stepped up when his team needed him the most. Couple that with Jimmy Howard stopping all 17 shots he faced, and the Red Wings proved why they could be a threat in the post season.
With the win, the Red Wings jumped up to the seventh spot in the Western Conference; a spot much more desirable I’m sure. With the seventh seed Detroit is able to avoid the Chicago Blackhawks in the first round of the playoffs. Chicago won the Presidents Trophy this season for having the most points with 77. Just because they were able to avoid the Blackhawks doesn’t mean the path to winning the Stanley Cup is going to be easy, though. Detroit has to open up with the Anaheim Ducks, who finished second with 66 points.
For now though, Detroit is enjoying the fact they are in the playoffs. It took some hard work down the stretch but they pulled it off. Meanwhile, across the ice, the Stars have another long off-season waiting for them. For the fifth straight year, Dallas will be watching the playoffs from home. There will be lots of questions to answer and lots of decisions to be made.