BOSTON -- The math is simple and the focus is clear for the Detroit Red Wings in their pursuit of a 25th straight trip to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
"We put ourselves in a position [Wednesday] by winning a game to control our own destiny," Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said after a 5-2 loss to the Boston Bruins at TD Garden on Thursday. "So let's go win a hockey game on Saturday."
The Red Wings need to win against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden (12:30 p.m. ET; FS-D, MSG, NHL.TV) in regulation or overtime to clinch a postseason spot without any help.
If Detroit wins in a shootout Saturday, it would need assistance from either the Boston Bruins or Philadelphia Flyers to qualify.
The Flyers control their own destiny with two games remaining (Saturday at home against the Pittsburgh Penguins and Sunday at the New York Islanders). If Philadelphia wins both, it will secure the second wild card from the Eastern Conference.
If the Flyers win each of their remaining games and the Red Wings beat the Rangers in regulation or overtime, it won't matter what Boston does Saturday against the Ottawa Senators; in that scenario, the Bruins would be out of the playoffs because of the non-shootout wins tiebreaker.
If the Red Wings and Bruins each finish with 95 points and 39 non-shootout wins, Boston owns the second tiebreaker against Detroit, having won the season series 3-1. Under that scenario, the Red Wings would need help to claim the second wild card. If Philadelphia wins out, it would finish with 96 points; Detroit can get no more than 95.
"We've got character in this room to get the job done and we've just got to go out there and play one game, win one game," Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard said. "We know what it's going to take and I know we can do it."
The situation is not new to the Red Wings. They had to win their final four games of the 2012-13 season to clinch a playoff berth. And, like this season, the Red Wings went into the penultimate game in control of their own playoff fate; they gave themselves a chance this season by defeating the Flyers 3-0 at Joe Louis Arena on Wednesday.
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Everything they did against Philadelphia was missing against Boston.
The Red Wings were fast, aggressive and dominant in all three zones against the Flyers. Howard was seeing pucks through traffic, controlling rebounds, quick with his lateral movements and positioning himself to make the first and, when necessary, second saves.
They had no chance against the Bruins, who scored two goals in the first 2:44. Boston traded goals with the Red Wings in the second period before starting the third period with two goals in the first 45 seconds.
"You always wish you would have clinched, but we still have a lot to play for," Red Wings forward Brad Richards said. "We've got to park it and move on."
It shouldn't be difficult. The math isn't.
One more regulation or overtime win, and Detroit's playoff streak is guaranteed to survive.
"It's great because there's no other thoughts, no other distractions," Richards said. "It's just focus on us and go play hockey. There's no scoreboard watching. We'll wake up Saturday morning and get right at it. No thinking. Just go out and go play."