ST. LOUIS (AP) _ Managing only 12 shots and leaning on a 30-year-old rookie goaltender, the Detroit Red Wings found a way to secure the NHL's regular-season points title.
Marc Lamothe had 26 saves in his second start of the season and Chris Chelios had two assists in the Red Wings' 3-2 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night.
``I just go with the flow,'' Lamothe said. ``You know, one day at a time. All of those clich?s. I'm always ready.''
Detroit has 109 points, three more than Tampa Bay, and each team has one game left.
``The one thing about the Presidents' Trophy is it's a tribute to the grind of the season,'' coach Dave Lewis said. ``Once the playoffs start, it means nothing.''
The Blues are trying to extend the longest current streak in professional sports. Instead, the loss in their regular-season home finale put them in a three-way tie with the Oilers and Predators for seventh in the Western Conference with two games to go.
St. Louis plays at Nashville on Saturday, then finishes at Minnesota on Sunday. The Blues stumbled despite their first penalty-free game since 1979; the Red Wings had only two minor penalties.
``To come up empty is disparaging, but we still control our own fate,'' forward Doug Weight said. ``It's going to be a big weekend. We just wish we could have done the damage tonight.''
The Red Wings, who won their fifth straight and ended the Blues' four-game winning streak, are 8-1-1-1 in their last 11 games against St. Louis the last two seasons.
``They find a way to win, but we're not going to worry about that,'' Weight said. ``You guys can talk about that stuff.
``The next time we see them, whether it's in a week, whether it's in three or four weeks, we're going to take the fact we outplayed them and try to do the same things the next time.''
Lamothe has spent most of the season at Grand Rapids of the AHL and is essentially the Red Wings' fourth goalie after Dominik Hasek, Curtis Joseph and Manny Legace. Legace played Wednesday in a 3-2 win over Columbus that clinched first overall in the West. Hasek and Joseph are injured, so Lamothe made his first start since Feb. 23 and won his second career game.
``I started Marc just in case,'' Lewis said. ``I want everybody to be ready. I figured this would be the biggest game he's faced in the NHL and he responded.''
Boyd Devereaux and Steve Thomas scored first-period goals to give the Red Wings an early 2-0 lead. Ray Whitney's 14th goal of the season broke a 2-2 second-period tie. Detroit had only two shots in the second and four in the third, but scored on three of its first eight shots against Chris Osgood.
The Blues' goalie was named the NHL defensive player of the month earlier Thursday.
The Red Wings converted two of six first-period shots against Osgood. Deveraux got his sixth goal with a high shot from the left side of the net at 6:32 and Thomas scored off a drop pass from Brett Hull at 12:46.
Mike Sillinger scored on the rebound of a shot from the point by Chris Pronger at 1:52 of the second. Brian Savage's 15th goal, also on a rebound, came just over a minute later.
The Red Wings regained the lead despite taking two shots in the second. Whitney scored his goal at 17:58 with another high shot.
|Boyd Devereaux (6) ASST: Chris Chelios (18)|
1 - 0 DET
|Steve Thomas (9) ASST: Brett Hull (42)|
2 - 0 DET
|Mike Sillinger (13) ASST: Chris Pronger (40), Jamal Mayers (4)|
2 - 1 DET
|Brian Savage (15) ASST: Doug Weight (50), Christian Backman (13)|
2 - 2 Tie
|Ray Whitney (14) ASST: Henrik Zetterberg (28), Chris Chelios (19)|
3 - 2 DET
|Jason Williams Hi-sticking|
|Brendan Shanahan Interference|