If the Red Wings manage to extend their playoff-making streak to 23 straight years at the end of this season, it will be easy to point to tonight’s dramatics against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Joe Louis Arena and call it the biggest win of the year.
In a game fraught with playoff pressure and wackiness, the Red Wings (32-24-13) picked up two huge points by beating the Pens, 5-4 in overtime—by scoring the winning goal with 0.4 seconds remaining.
The Red Wings’ ageless warrior, Daniel Alfredsson, got credit for the winner—his second goal of the night—when his wrist shot rebounded off Pittsburgh goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, who’s had much luckier nights, and bounced off even more unlucky defenseman Rob Scuderi and trickled over the goal line as time ran out.
After a brief confirmation with the folks in Toronto, the goal was affirmed and the Red Wings, with 77 points, are just one point out of the no. 8 seed.
It was far from easy, even after Detroit staked itself to a 2-0 lead.
Three Penguin goals within three minutes late in the second period put Pittsburgh ahead, 3-2, after 40 minutes.
The puck was bouncing off Penguins defenders into the net all night, to the tune of three goals.
The second of those three times gave Detroit a 4-3 lead with about seven minutes left in the third period. The goal was credited to Todd Bertuzzi, but it may be changed to Luke Glendening—it would be Glendening’s first career NHL goal—because replays seemed to indicate that Bertuzzi’s wrist shot deflected off Glendening before it bounced off a Pittsburgh defenseman and past Fleury.
Craig Adams tied the game with 5:34 left.
The game winner happened when a Pittsburgh rush with 12 seconds left suddenly turned the other way, with Alfredsson leading a 3-on-1 break. Alfie skated down the right wing and fired the puck with three seconds left, triggering the pinball effect, sending JLA into a frenzy.
It was a big win, and maybe will be considered the biggest, coming against a powerful Penguins team with the Red Wings decimated by injuries.