Pittsburgh's matchup with Detroit on Thursday at PPG Paints Arena had huge playoff implications, as both teams entered the game one point outside of the final Wild Card spot—which had been held by Washington—with four games remaining.

After the Red Wings battled back from a two-goal deficit in the third period, the game headed to overtime. With their postseason hopes potentially on the line, Erik Karlsson stepped up and netted the winner to give the Penguins a 6-5 victory.

"I needed that goal, we needed that goal, I think,” Karlsson said. “We played a really solid game, and a couple of hiccups for them to get the 5-4 and 5-5 (scores). But that’s how tight it is, and you got to be 100% focused at all times. It’s a good learning lesson."

The win paired with the Capitals' regulation loss to the Sabres meant the Penguins leapfrogged their division rival into postseason position. They have 86 points while Washington and Detroit have 85 points, all with three games remaining. Philadelphia also has 85 points, but only two games remaining.

“I give our players a lot of credit for just digging in and competing,” Head Coach Mike Sullivan said. “We're competing hard, and I love that about this group right now. Their care factor is really high, and they're doing everything they can to get into the playoffs.”

Alex Nedeljkovic has started all 10 games of Pittsburgh’s 7-0-3 run and made some timely saves in this one, including a big stop on Dylan Larkin in overtime to send his teammates the other way for the score. The tally capped off a historic night for Sidney Crosby, as the captain became the 14th player all-time to reach 1,000 assists after setting up Karlsson.

Crosby also entered the NHL’s top-10 point scorers list with 1,591 points. He is the first player to do so since Jaromir Jagr did so over 16 years ago on January 19, 2008. Full story here.

"He's a big part of our game and he's a big reason that we are in the situation we're in, and we're going to need him playing like this down the stretch here to have a chance," Karlsson said. "If it's one thing he's done throughout his career it's delivering when you need it the most and today was nothing different than that."

His line set the tone early, with Drew O’Connor driving to the net and getting the puck over the line just 2:40 into play. But Lucas Raymond evened the score less than a minute later, the first of three goals for the young Detroit forward. After Kris Letang put the Penguins back in front, the Red Wings responded again, tying it with 14 seconds to go in the frame.

In the second period, Sullivan decided to move Reilly Smith up to the top line and slot O’Connor with Lars Eller, calling it a “feel” thing. "Sometimes if I don't think certain guys have their best on a given night, or if the line maybe needs a little bit of a jolt, we'll tweak those those lines a little bit. And I just thought it was it was probably appropriate tonight."

The moves worked out, as Smith ended up feeding Michigan native Bryan Rust for a tally, with the winger recording three points on the night. “We just found some space offensively, created a little bit… it worked out well,” Rust said.

After former Penguin Jeff Petry gave the Red Wings another late goal to bring his team within one, Jeff Carter got it back with a huge shorthanded goal early in the final frame. But Detroit’s top players came up clutch to tie the game, with Larkin and Raymond finding the back of the net.

“We have to do a better job just playing winning hockey and not giving them opportunities for quick offense and breakaways,” Smith said. “Obviously, Karl’s goal’s huge and it helps us a lot, but we still have to work on that and be on the right side of the puck.”

They regrouped well for overtime, which has been a thorn in the team’s side all season. The Penguins had five wins in 17 appearances coming into tonight.

"We made way better decisions with the puck, not forcing something that's not there,” Sullivan said. “Not allowing ourselves to get steered into short ice and get pressured into a turnover."

And at the end of the day, while tonight wasn’t picturesque for the team, they’d rather learn from a win than a loss – especially at this time of year.

"I think we've done a really good job of staying with it, getting back on the horse and just persevering, whatever happens,” Nedeljkovic said. “We've had it both ways where we've blown leads and lost, we've blown leads and won. We've come from behind and won late so it's, we're just finding ways to win right now, they're not always going to be pretty, you'd like them to be a little prettier than that but you know, like I said, we'll take two points tonight."