DET-MTL 04_16_24

MONTREAL -- The Detroit Red Wings battled for a Stanley Cup Playoffs spot all the way to their 2023-24 regular-season finale. They demonstrated resilience and determination not just when their backs were against the wall down the stretch, but all season long.

But on Tuesday night, the Washington Capitals clinched the Eastern Conference’s second and final wild-card spot with a 2-1 road win over the Philadelphia Flyers, dashing the Red Wings’ postseason hopes just before they defeated the Montreal Canadiens in a shootout, 5-4, at Bell Centre.

Detroit and Washington both finished the regular season with 91 points apiece, but the Capitals had the tiebreaker with more regulation wins (32-27).

“All of these guys never quit,” Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin said. “We had a very close-knit group this year. To have the last month, last two weeks, that we had, we just wouldn’t go away. Comeback after comeback, just so much fun. I wish we had more with this group and wish we got the got the opportunity to play in the playoffs. It would have been so much fun.”

Goalie James Reimer stopped 29 of 33 shots for Detroit (41-32-9; 91 points), which made an 11-point improvement from its 2022-23 season. Netminder Cayden Primeau finished with 36 saves for Montreal (30-36-16; 76 points).

"All year long, especially down the stretch, they played for each other," Red Wings head coach Derek Lalonde said. "It was all about the team. We take seven of our last eight points the way we did. We won 14 games trailing in the third period. I just feel awful for the guys because they literally gave everything. It's gut-wrenching for the group.

"Proud of them. I don't know what more the group could have done battle-wise. This stings, but they did move this proud organization forward from where it's been for the last few years. We got to keep pushing forward."

Alex Newhook finished Brendan Gallagher’s feed on a 2-on-1 rush to give Montreal a 1-0 lead at 11:32 of the first period. Rookie Logan Mailloux, who was making his NHL debut, had the secondary assist on Newhook’s game-opening goal for his first career point.

The Red Wings tied it 1-1 at 18:29 of the first period. Moritz Seider fired a shot by Primeau’s glove side after getting a feed from Larkin, who intercepted the puck at the point. Lucas Raymond extended his point streak to six straight games with the secondary assist on Seider’s ninth goal of the season.

Montreal capitalized on another 2-on-1 rush at 6:15 of the second period when Joel Armia’s shot trickled through Reimer’s five-hole, then Gallagher tapped the loose puck home to make it 2-1.

Cole Caufield gave the Canadiens a 3-1 advantage at 10:09 of the second period, stuffing a rebound from the right face-off circle off a shot from Juraj Slafkovsky. But just 36 seconds later, Joe Veleno scored a goal on a delayed penalty call to make it 3-2. The assists on Veleno’s 12th goal of the season went to Shayne Gostisbehere and Daniel Sprong.

Sprong’s 18th goal of the season tied the game at 3-3 just 3:31 into the third period. He banked a shot off Primeau from below the goal line into the back of the net.

Slafkovsky's net-front tip of Lane Hutson's wrister put Montreal back in front 4-3 at 12:46 of the third period.

With just five seconds left in the third period, David Perron blasted a shot from the point that found its way through traffic for a goal to tie it 4-4. Gostisbehere had the lone assist on Perron's 17th goal of the season, which briefly kept Detroit's playoff hopes alive.

"You look at the clock, there's seven seconds (left), and then scoring that goal," Perron said. "Then to come back to the bench you hear not too long after that obviously Philly is thinking that we're losing that game, maybe, they pull their goalie, they do their thing and (the Capitals) score."

Kane completed the comeback by scoring the lone goal in the shootout for the 5-4 final. It was his 52nd career NHL shootout goal, tying former Chicago Blackhawks teammate Jonathan Toews for the most in league history. 

"For this team, the way that we battled, whether it was to come back in games or just find ourselves in this position was incredible," Kane said. "It was like nothing I've ever seen. There's no quit in this team. Really had a lot of fun playing with these guys and playing for the team here in general. Obviously it was a really fun year. It's very disappointing right now, but hopefully we can find some positives in the way we played towards the end of the year. The battle level of this group was just so impressive."

NEXT UP: Stay tuned to and the Red Wings' social media channels this offseason for additional stories and content.

Meijer Postgame Comments | MTL vs. DET | 04/16/24


Lalonde on the late-season race for the East's second wild-card spot

"Probably a little credit (to Washington). For them to win out against the competition they did, probably got to tip your hat to them. I just feel awful for the guys, the way they competed and battled, how much they wanted it. We did fall short."

Larkin on his post-game emotions

“It’s hard. It’s gutting. We’re pretty sad in here, just to see it come to an end. We have a great group of guys. A great, fun year. Then to see it end like that is very sad and hard.”

Larkin on reflecting on this season

“You’ll be able to reflect and look back. I’m a fan of this team. I get to play on the team, but to see the future right in front of us, it’s pretty special. This season was a statement that the organization is back and heading in the right direction.”

Larkin on his optimism about the future

“I’m proud of this group and everything we’ve accomplished. Every time we had adversity, we came back from it. Every time people counted us out, we came back and we did it together. You saw young players taking a step in leadership. It’s heading in the right direction and I’m proud to be part of this group.”

Kane on the growth he saw from this Detroit club

"When I first came, it seemed like we were more of a run and gun team. As time went on towards the season, I think we really started to play more of a playoff game and found ways to get wins from that. There's so much potential in this room. They have a lot of core pieces that will help them for a long time. I've been around a while, so it's always tough when you're eliminated." 

Reimer on his takeaway from the 2023-24 Red Wings

"Just so proud of the character and the resiliency of this group, and I think the growth. I think sometimes it comes down to asking yourself the question, 'What are we capable of?' I think we answered that in an extremely postive way this year. We took a step forward. I think fans in this city, guys on the team, organization, everyone should be really excited because we took a big step. We showed that growth and what we're capable of doing. It's one of those things now where you keep building off that. If this group continues to build like we did, it's going to be a bright future for this organization."