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Red Wings look to gain in tight playoff race

Maple Leafs aim to derail Detroit bid for 25th consecutive season in playoffs

by Mike Brophy / Correspondent

RED WINGS (39-28-11) AT MAPLE LEAFS (28-38-11)

TV: 7 p.m. ET: NHLN, CBC, CITY

TORONTO - The Detroit Red Wings will continue their push toward making the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the 25th consecutive season when they face the Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre on Saturday.

The Red Wings moved into a tie in points with the Philadelphia Flyers for the second wild card into the playoffs in the Eastern Conference with a 3-2 win against the Minnesota Wild on Friday. Riley Sheahan paced Detroit with a goal and an assist giving him four goals and six points in five games.

The Red Wings and Flyers each have 89 points, but Philadelphia holds the spot because it has played two fewer games than Detroit.

The Red Wings, one point behind the Boston Bruins for third place in the Atlantic Division, are 3-3-0 in their past six games, with 23 goals against. Detroit lost 1-0 to the Maple Leafs at home on March 13.

The Red Wings had six skaters at their optional morning skate in Toronto, among them rookie Dylan Larkin, who said helping his team make it to the postseason for the 25th year in a row resonates with him.

"It's really important," he said. "As a team, we want to be a part of this and personally, I want to be a part of the streak."

Larkin and Tomas Tatar also scored for Detroit against the Wild. Jimmy Howard made 20 saves to record his 12th win of the season. 

The Maple Leafs have lost three of their past four games and will try to bounce back from a 4-1 defeat to the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday.

Rookie Tobias Lindberg registered an assist against the Sabres in his first NHL game and said he feels more comfortable preparing to play his second game with Toronto.

"It has definitely been a bit of a roller coaster season for me," Lindberg said. "Every step you take you play against players who are stronger and smarter. I know I have to play hard every shift to stay in the NHL. You can't take a shift off in this league."

Lindberg helped the Oshawa Generals win the Memorial Cup last season and began the year with Binghamton of the American Hockey League before joining the Maple Leafs organization in a trade for captain Dion Phaneuf on Feb. 9.

Lindberg recorded his first NHL point when he skated behind the Buffalo net with the puck and slipped a pass out the short side to Brooks Laich, who scored against Sabres goalie Chad Johnson.

Laich was quite impressed with Lindberg's vision and execution on the play.

"I did expect the pass because you are in the NHL and you expect NHL players to make that play," Laich said. "But when I looked up and saw that it was Tobias, I have to admit I was a little surprised. He showed a lot of poise on that play. I remember my first NHL game, and I know I didn't have that kind of poise and confidence with the puck."

Toronto coach Mike Babcock also liked what he saw in Lindberg.

"I liked that he was 6-foot-3 and 225 pounds when he made that pass," Babcock said. "Obviously he has the hands to do that. He can really skate. In saying all that, I watched him quite a bit with the Marlies, and you don't see that every day."

Here are the projected lineups:


Justin Abdelkader - Henrik Zetterberg - Dylan Larkin

Darren Helm - Pavel Datsyuk - Brad Richards

Gustav Nyquist - Riley Sheahan - Tomas Tatar

Andreas Athanasiou - Luke Glendening - Anthony Mantha

Danny DeKeyser - Kyle Quincey

Niklas Kronwall - Alexey Marchenko

Jonathan Ericsson - Mike Green

Jimmy Howard

Petr Mrazek

Injured: Drew Miller (knee), Johan Franzen (concussion) 
Scratched: Teemu Pulkkinen, Tomas Jurco, Brendan Smith  


Michael Grabner - Nazem Kadri - Brad Boyes

Tobias Lindberg - Tyler Bozak - Kasperi Kapanen

Colin Greening - William Nylander - PA Parenteau

Brooks Laich - Byron Froese - Byron Froese

Morgan Rielly - Martin Marincin

Jake Gardiner - Frank Corrado

Andrew Campbell - T.J. Brennan

Garret Sparks

Jonathan Bernier

Injured: Leo Komarov (lower body), Peter Holland (upper body), Nikita Soshnikov (upper body), Matt Hunwick (sports hernia), James van Riemsdyk (foot), Joffrey Lupul (sports hernia), Stephane Robidas (knee), Viktor Loov (upper body), Milan Michalek (knee)
Scratched: None 

Status report: The Maple Leafs recalled Frederik Gauthier from the Toronto Marlies of the AHL on Saturday. … Toronto announced Michalek will miss the remainder of the season with a knee injury. … Babcock said Soshnikov is feeling better, but probably won't get into a game before the regular season concludes. … Both Red Wings goalies attended an optional morning skate in Toronto, but only Mrazek was on the ice. Howard limited himself to an off-ice stretching routine.

Who's hot: Laich has points in four of his past six games. Lindberg had an assist in his NHL debut on Thursday. … Nyquist has three points in two games. Tatar has a goal and two assists in four games. Zetterberg has three assists in three games.

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