Rolling Red Wings return home to face Devils
The Detroit Red Wings can't make the playoffs. That hasn't stopped them from trying to finish the season on a high note.
The Wings won for the fifth time in six games on Thursday night, edging the Sabres 5-4 in overtime at Buffalo. They'll look to keep the hot streak going at home on Friday when they host another lottery-bound team, the New Jersey Devils.
Tyler Bertuzzi scored the game-winner against the Sabres and wound up with two goals and an assist.
Detroit might hurt its lottery prospects somewhat by continuing to win, but the players don't care about that.
"We're just out here to win hockey games and tighten things up for next year," Bertuzzi said in a postgame TV interview. "We're playing good hockey right now, so we're just going to stick with it these next five games and try to get wins."
The Wings have won three straight, as they upset playoff-bound Vegas and San Jose on the road prior to their journey to Buffalo. Detroit squandered a two-goal lead in the third period Thursday before Bertuzzi secured the victory.
"We're working really hard right now," Bertuzzi said. "We're playing simple, we're playing smart. We had a really good game in Vegas and definitely brought that over to San Jose. Tonight, we got a little bit away from it, but in the end, we battled and got the two points."
Bertuzzi's usual linemates also had big nights in Buffalo. The team's star, center Dylan Larkin, scored twice to reach the 30-goal mark. Anthony Mantha had three assists.
"A few young guys just wanting to work hard and create offense," Bertuzzi said of the first line. "We're jelling right now. We have to play better defensively, but we were good offensively. If we can tighten up defensively, we'll be good."
Taro Hirose, who was signed out of Michigan State two weeks ago, continued his assist streak. He's recorded one in each of his first five NHL games.
The Devils haven't played since Monday, when they defeated Buffalo 3-1. New Jersey goaltender Cory Schneider made 45 saves, and the only goal he allowed was a center-ice shot that took a bad hop.
"I don't know if it's the old Cory Schneider, but it's the Cory Schneider you want to see," Devils coach John Hynes said. "Mistakes are going to happen in the game and things are not going to go your way. The fact that it didn't snowball is, for him, a real good step in the right direction."
New Jersey has won its past two games, though Hynes wasn't happy about the Devils' overall performance against the Sabres, feeling that Schneider and the special teams bailed them out.
"I thought five-on-five, we got outplayed," he said. "If we don't have the goaltending we had, we're probably not winning the game. We have to play way better, more structured and harder than we did. If we're going to play like we played and win games, that's not good. We have to play the right way, you have to have the right mindset."
The Devils, who reside in last place in the Metropolitan Division, lost at Detroit 4-3 on Nov. 1 and fell 3-2 to the Red Wings in overtime on Nov. 17 in Newark, N.J.
--Field Level Media
Updated March 29, 2019