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Wings scrape past Wild to keep pace in playoff hunt

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Detroit — This time the Red Wings didn’t lose the third-period lead.

They didn’t get rattled when the opposition scored, they played much better defensively, and the goaltender made saves.

Because of all those positives, the Red Wings find themselves still clearly in the playoff picture after a 3-2 win over the Minnesota Wild on Friday.

The Red Wings moved into a tie in terms of points (89) with the Flyers for the final wild-card spot, although Philadelphia has played two less games.

With Boston winning in St. Louis, the Red Wings remain one point from the Bruins for third place in the Atlantic Division, and an automatic playoff berth.

BOX SCORE: Red Wings 3, Wild 2

But coming off a disappointing late loss Tuesday in Montreal, the Red Wings felt good about this win against a red-hot Wild team.

“We played good for 60 (minutes),” coach Jeff Blashill said. “We did a good job overall, didn’t give up a lot of easy chances, we created a good amount.

“It was a good hockey games. I was happy to come out on top.”

Dylan Larkin (power play), Tomas Tatar and Riley Sheahan scored goals for the Wings, while goalie Jimmy Howard stopped 20 shots.

“Very satisfying, it was two points we definitely needed,” Howard said. “We started right from the drop of the puck and played a full 60 minutes.

“I was proud of the effort from all the guys in front of me.”

This was a much tighter and sharper defensive effort from the Red Wings.

“We did a great job of protecting in front of the net, just did a great job all night long in front of me,” Howard said.

Jonas Brodin and Mikael Granlund scored for the Wild.

Sheahan’s goal gave the Red Wings a two-goal lead early in the third period.

Continuing a recent hot streak Sheahan had a goal and assist in the game - six points (four goals) in last five games - and provided a net-front presence on Larkin’s power-play goal.

“Just building off some points and some puck luck for sure,” Sheahan said. “Playing with some real good players. All these guys in the offensive zone, they’re capable of making plays.”

Sheahan got inside the Wild defense and wrapped a rebound past goalie Devan Dubnyk a little over two minutes into the third period for his 13th goal.

But Granlund made it 3-2 at 9:43 with his 12th goal.

Granlund snapped a shot from the dot that Howard was screened for a split-second, or just enough to lose it as it beat him stick side.

But the Red Wings didn’t panic or let the one goal become multiple goals.

“Goals are going to happen, they’ll happen throughout the game,” Howard said. “You just have to have that attitude, shake it off, and go back to work.

“We did very well tonight.”

The Red Wings were without Pavel Datsyuk for a small portion of the third after he was cut by an errant Nino Niederreiter stick.

Datsyuk appeared to be bleeding near the lip area when skating off the ice, but returned after missing several shifts.

Tatar gave the Red Wings a 2-0 lead early in the second period.

Gustav Nyquist had the puck behind the net and backhanded a pass to Tatar on the wing. Tatar’s shot from a bad angle banked off Dubnyk’s back leg and into the net, giving Tatar his 21st goal at the 17:28 mark.

The Red Wings appeared to settling into taking control of the game but Brodin made it a one-goal game with 3:18 left in the second.

Moments after Howard made a fine point-blank save on Zach Parise in front, the puck found its way to Ryan Suter, who found Brodin at the opposite point and Brodin’s one-timer sailed past Howard.

The Red Wings opened the scoring as their power play continued to excel, scoring a goal for the seventh consecutive game.

Larkin got the puck near the dot and snapped a shot that deflected off Suter.

The puck became a knuckleball, fluttering through the air and it appeared to deflect off Sheahan, who was net-front, but the puck somehow missed Sheahan’s stick and wobbled past Dubnyk.

The goal was Larkin’s team-high 23rd. @tkulfan