The Red Wings squandered a two-goal lead to the Buffalo Sabres, and as the game went to overtime, there was a definite sense of fear that, while the team had earned a point against a non-conference opponent, that team needed to get two points.
Fortunately, it took them just 31 seconds.
Brian Rafalski put a one-timer past Ryan Miller to take advantage of the fourth power play of the night and give the Red Wings a 3-2 win, reclaiming the eighth playoff spot from the Calgary Flames, who were idle Saturday night.
It was the ninth straight game with a power play goal for Detroit, and their 12th straight home game.
Pavel Datsyuk and Patrick Eaves also scored for the Red Wings, overcoming a pair of goals from Jochen Hecht.
The Wings jumped out early. Johan Franzen took full advantage of the Joe Louis Arena boards to fire a hard pass to Datsyuk, who was skating in towards Miller. Datsyuk fired a hard 12 footer that went past Miller for his team-leading 21st of the season and his fourth goal in five games. Niklas Kronwall picked up the other assist.
The Red Wings kept their foot on the gas: 73 seconds later, Darren Helm put the puck on Eaves stick as he crossed the far blue-line. Eaves kicked it into high gear, held on as Craig Rivet stuck his stick into Eaves skates to try to break it up, and put the puck through an exposed Miller for his 10th of the season.
But the two-goal lead wouldn't last long. Jason Pominville's shot was blocked by Jimmy Howard, but as seems to be a recurring theme, Howard was sloppy with the rebound, which put the puck right on Hecht's stick. He didn't miss, and the lead was cut to 2-1.
In the second period, Hecht struck again. Tim Connolly's shot was blocked by Howard, and the puck squirted out to Pominville. Pominville struggled to handle it, but Hecht took a swing at it. The puck deflected off Howard's right shoulder and into the net to tie the game. It was Hecht's 16th of the season and his second two-goal game of the year (his first was on New Year's Day against Atlanta).
With 1:13 left in regulation, Tyler Myers flipped the puck over the glass in the defensive zone, earning a delay of game penalty. That penalty carried over to overtime. With the play securely in the Wings offensive zone, Nicklas Lidstrom set up Rafalski, who wound up and beat Miller to his right side for his sixth goal of the year and his first game-winner of the year.
The Red Wings will face Calgary in the final game of their regular season series on Monday night.
Player of the game: Brian Rafalski. A game-winner in overtime? That's a player of the game.