A game that was not by any stretch of the imagination ended with another wild finish, two-points, and a date with the Phoenix Coyotes.
Brad Stuart scored 3:11 into overtime to give the Detroit Red Wings a 3-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks. With that win, the Red Wings, who fell as low as 11th place at one point in the season, finished in fifth place in the Western Conference.
Henrik Zetterberg was tied up with two Blackhawks, nearly drawing a penalty. But he managed to push the puck to Dan Cleary. Cleary waited a moment for Duncan Keith and Antti Niemi to both commit, then put the pass to Stuart. Stuart simply one-timed it to pick up his fourth goal of the season, and wrap up the regular season.
It was a game in which both teams appeared sluggish, despite each needed a win for their playoff positioning. Both goaltenders were very good, with Jimmy Howard picking up his 37th win of the season. He has only lost twice in regulation since the Olympic break. Niemi faced only 21 shots.
Patrick Eaves and Tomas Holmstrom also scored for Detroit, while Dave Bolland and Colin Fraser picked up tallies for Chicago.
Chicago would light the lamp first. Just 11 seconds after Kris Draper sat for interference, Jonathan Toews drove the net, covered with Brad Stuart. His initial attempt was handled, but Bolland quickly handled the puck and slid it in to earn his sixth goal of the year. Patrick Kane grabbed the second assist.
The Red Wings would tie it up in the second. Behind the net, Darren Helm put a pass that Cleary would knock out of the air just before crossing the blue line. Cleary skated in and fired a blast that Niemi managed to stop, but the rebound dribbled out to his right, where Eaves found a wide open net and an easy shot that was his 12th goal of the year.
In the third period, Brian Rafalski pick up a Pavel Datsyuk pass along the near side boards at the blue line. He skated towards the middle of the ice along the blue line and fired a shot that was screened by at least three Blackhawk players, deflected off Holmstrom, and into the net. Niemi barely moved to block the shot, and Holmstrom earned his 25th goal of the season.
But the Blackhawks would counter. Marian Hossa would put a pass towards the crease, where Fraser would have the puck go off his skate and right past Howard for his seventh of the season. Keith picked up the other assist.
Player of the Game: Brad Stuart. The game winner in overtime.