DETROIT (AP) — Dylan Larkin, Riley Sheahan and Luke Glendening scored, and the Detroit Red Wings held on for a 3-2 victory against the Buffalo Sabres on Monday night.
Detroit desperately needed the two points to boost its chances of extending the franchise’s postseason streak to 25.
The Red Wings pulled within a point of Boston for the third and final guaranteed spot from the Atlantic Division. Both teams have six games left in the regular season.
Detroit is tied with Philadelphia for the second wild card in the Eastern Conference, but the Flyers have one more game to earn at least a point. Philadelphia beat Winnipeg 3-2 in overtime on Monday night.
Detroit’s Jimmy Howard gave up goals to Zemgus Girgensons and Sam Reinhart in a 61-second span late in the game.
Howard finished with 18 saves. He faced just nine shots through two periods before the Sabres got 11 shots on net in the third.
Buffalo’s Chad Johnson stopped 26 shots, but his team simply couldn’t generate much offense until the final few minutes.
The Red Wings got off to a listless start in front of a quiet crowd.
Larkin fired up the red-clad fans, scoring on a power play with 1:28 left in the first period. He has a team-high 22 goals and ranks among its leaders with 44 points, the most by a Red Wings rookie since Henrik Zetterberg finished with the same total during the 2002-03 season.
Sheahan scored unassisted midway through the second, taking the puck from deep in the Detroit end and shooting a wrist shot from the top of the left circle that got past Johnson’s glove.
The Sabres pulled Johnson for the first time with a few minutes left to add an extra skater and Glendening took advantage of the chance to shoot into an empty net. They did avoid a shutout nine seconds later with Girgensons’ off-balance shot and suddenly turned a lopsided game into a close one with Reinhart’s goal. Buffalo created chances in the final seconds, but couldn’t get the puck past Howard.
NOTES: The Red Wings celebrated Gordie Howe’s 88th birthday, which is Thursday, during the first period by signing “Happy Birthday,” to the Hall of Famer and presenting him with a cake. … The Sabres will be relegated to watching the playoffs for the fifth straight year. … Detroit D Brendan Smith was a healthy scratch.