The Detroit Red Wings' hopes for a 23rd consecutive trip to the Stanley Cup Playoffs got a helping hand from some fortunate bounces.
Daniel Alfredsson's shot deflected off defenseman Rob Scuderi and into the net with 0.4 seconds remaining in overtime, giving the Red Wings a 5-4 victory against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday night.
Alfredsson's shot from the right circle was stopped by Marc-Andre Fleury, but the rebound caromed off Scuderi and into the net for his 17th goal of the season and second of the night. A video review showed the puck entered the net just before time expired.
"You do a lot of good things, you get lucky," Alfredsson said after his third goal in two games. "I know I didn't hear the horn. I thought it would be good. Big break for us."
Alfredsson's was the second goal of the night that went into the net off Scuderi and the third that went past Fleury after hitting a Pittsburgh defenseman. It came after the Red Wings killed off a five-minute Pittsburgh power play that included the final 3:46 of regulation and the first 74 seconds of overtime. Jimmy Howard made five of his 39 saves during the long power play.
The victory enabled the Red Wings (32-24-13) to move within one point of the New York Rangers, who hold the final wild-card position in the Eastern Conference. Detroit is 8-0-2 in its past 10 home games.
"We made some mistakes, they made mistakes, but we stayed with it and found a way to win a game," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "That was a big win for us."
Pittsburgh received a five-minute power play when David Legwand was assessed a major penalty and a game misconduct for butt-ending Evgeni Malkin at 16:14 of the third. Howard made two saves in the first 1:45 of the long power play before the Detroit penalty killers got the game into overtime by keeping Pittsburgh to the outside and blocking all three attempts in the final two minutes. Howard made three more saves in the first minute of overtime before the power play expired.
"I think just the importance of timely goals and when we have a lead in the third period, you can't give it up, number one," Crosby said. "And then when you have the opportunity to win the game on a five-minute major, you've got to finish the game off. Those are tough lessons, but I think teams that are successful find ways to make sure they take advantage of those opportunities."
Before Legwand's penalty, the lead had already changed hands twice during a frantic third period.
Detroit's Tomas Tatar tied the game 3-3 at 9:59 by finishing off a 2-on-1 with Riley Sheahan, and Todd Bertuzzi put the Red Wings ahead 2:18 later when his shot from near the left half-wall hit Pittsburgh defenseman Olli Maatta in front of the crease and deflected past Fleury.
But the Penguins got even with 5:43 remaining when Craig Adams one-timed Brandon Sutter's pass from behind the net for his fourth goal.
Malkin scored two of the Penguins' three goals in a 2:41 span late in the second period, rallying Pittsburgh from a two-goal deficit to a 3-2 lead after two periods.
Malkin tied the game at 15:42 of the second period with his 20th goal, then put the Penguins ahead at 17:58 by scoring during a 5-on-3 power play. Lee Stempniak also scored for the Metropolitan Division-leading Penguins (45-19-5) after the Red Wings had taken a 2-0 lead on goals by Alfredsson and Gustav Nyquist.
Detroit grabbed the lead 7:21 into the game when Alfredsson fired a wrist shot from the slot over Fleury's glove.
The Red Wings capitalized on their first power play to take a 2-0 lead at 4:35 of the second period. Nyquist got credit for his 20th goal when his pass from the lower right circle into the slot hit Scuderi's stick and slid past a helpless Fleury. It was Nyquist's 15th goal in 21 games since Jan. 20, the most in the NHL in the past two months, and his fourth in three games.
Pittsburgh kept the deficit at two goals by killing off three more Detroit power plays before tying the game on goals by Stempniak and Malkin 25 seconds apart.
"They were a desperate team, and we weren't ready to match their desperation," Crosby said. "I think the penalty kill doing its job allowed us to have a second chance."
Stempniak, acquired by Pittsburgh at the NHL Trade Deadline on March 5, made it 2-1 at 15:17 when he deflected a blue-line wrister by Chris Kunitz through the legs of defenseman Niklas Kronwall and past Howard for his 10th of the season and second with the Penguins. Malkin tied it by swatting a loose puck into the crease, where it hit Howard and trickled into the net.
Tatar went off for holding at 16:42, and Landon Ferraro followed him 66 seconds later when he was called for delay of game after shooting the puck over the glass. Pittsburgh needed all of 10 seconds to capitalize on the two-man advantage; Malkin's straightaway blast from 15 feet inside the blue line caught the top right corner past the glove of a screened Howard for a 3-2 lead.
Howard kept the deficit at one goal early in the third period when he denied Sutter on a breakaway, giving the Red Wings a chance to make a comeback.
"It's always tough here," Malkin said. "The puck bounces everywhere. We had a good chance to win. It's not a good loss."
Material from team media was used in this report.