The Detroit Red Wings are motoring their way into the NHL’s Eastern Conference playoff race.
The Red Wings have won five in a row entering Saturday night’s game at Seattle and have pulled within three points of the conference’s final playoff berth, with multiple games in hand on Washington, the New York Islanders and Florida — teams above them in the wild-card chase.
“We’ve been looking for something like this for quite a while,” winger David Perron said after a 5-2 victory Thursday at Calgary. “All year, we’ve been talking about it. If we want to be in this playoff picture, eventually, you have to make points on other teams, and we’ve done that recently.
“The good news and bad news now is we’re in the hunt, but we have to keep going. Any time you don’t play, or any night you don’t gather points, other teams that you are chasing are all winning, it seems like. But, it’s a good feeling to be part of it,” Perron added.
The Red Wings’ Western swing has had nary a speed bump, with a 6-1 victory at Vancouver and a 5-4 shootout win at Edmonton preceding their stop in Calgary.
Dominik Kubalik scored twice, Tyler Bertuzzi had a goal and two assists, and Dylan Larkin had three assists against the Flames. Goaltender Magnus Hellberg made 33 saves.
“Obviously, it’s a great feeling,” Hellberg said. “You feel the team has some good confidence. It feels like we just keep grinding. We trust each other, and everybody works hard for each other. A lot of smiles in this locker room after this win for sure.
“This is why we play. It goes fast in this league. If you look at a month ago, maybe we were a little bit out of it. But, we’ve been trusting each other and keep building every game, and now we have a couple of games in a row we win, and now, suddenly, we’re in it. You feel it; guys are pumped about it,” Hellberg added.
This will be the Red Wings’ first meeting this season with the Kraken; the teams play again March 2 in Detroit.
Seattle lost its first three games on the road following the All-Star break but has gone 2-0-1 over its past three — including a 6-2 victory against visiting Philadelphia on Thursday.
Yanni Gourde had two goals and an assist and played a part in two other goals — being part of a two-on-one-rush on which Jared McCann scored short-handed and setting a screen in front of the net on Justin Schultz’s blast from the blue line on the power play.
“It’s good to get some confidence,” said Gourde, who snapped a goal drought that dated to Jan. 10. “It’s good to shoot the puck and get the puck going. It’s always good to score a few goals going forward, but at the same time don’t change the way you play. Just play hard and play your game and good things happen.”
His teammates took note.
“He does it all, every game all year,” McCann said. “There’s a reason he’s got back-to-back Stanley Cups (with Tampa Bay). That’s the guy that we need to watch and need to learn from.”
–Field Level Media