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Red Wings win crucial game vs.Kings

The SportsXchange

DETROIT -- The Detroit Red Wings are back in the playoffs ... for now.

Jordin Tootoo's goal early in the third period broke a tie, Pavel Datsyuk had a goal and an assist, and Detroit moved into the eighth and final Western Conference playoff spot with a 3-1 comeback win over the Los Angeles Kings at Joe Louis Arena on Wednesday night.

The Red Wings are trying to extend their playoff streak to 22 consecutive seasons. They have the longest current postseason run in North American professional sports.

"It's important to get the points, get wins and get them in regulation time," said Detroit captain Henrik Zetterberg, who had two assists. "We got two games left, focus tomorrow (when Nashville visits Joe Louis Arena) and win that one and then move onto Dallas (for the season finale).''

The Columbus Blue Jackets trail the Red Wings (22-16-8) by one point, and the Dallas Stars are two points back with two games remaining for all three teams.

The defending Stanley Cup champion Kings (26-16-5) have already clinched a playoff spot, and they were tied for fourth in Western Conference with the Sharks prior to San Jose's game late Wednesday at Phoenix. Los Angeles plays host to San Jose on Saturday in the teams' regular-season finale.

Johan Franzen also scored for Detroit and goaltender Jimmy Howard stopped 23 shots.

"I think we just stayed with it. We knew they played last night in Minnesota so if we just continued to skate them and work their D, get on top of (goaltender Jonathan Quick) because he's a great goalie, we did that," Howard said. "We stayed the course and we were able to find the back (of the net) several times there in the third."

Kyle Clifford scored for Los Angeles. Jonathan Quick made 33 saves.

"We knew they were going to come out strong," the Kings' Anze Kopitar said. "Obviously, they're fighting to make the playoffs."

Los Angeles was also without captain and right wing Dustin Brown because he was suspended for two games without pay by the NHL earlier Wednesday for elbowing Minnesota forward Jason Pominville on Tuesday night in a 2-1 loss to the Wild.

"We missed him against a team like Detroit that really isn't a physical team. He could've helped us tonight," Kings' defenseman Drew Doughty said.

Tootoo gave the Red Wings a 2-1 lead 5:42 into the second period with his third goal of the season. He tipped Patrick Eaves' shot out of the air and past Quick. Tootoo, Eaves and Cory Emmerton are Detroit's fourth line.

"They played great for us. They're an energy line for us and tonight they came up with a huge goal for us," Red Wings' defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. "That's what they bring every night, a lot of energy and making it hard on their D men. Get the pucks deep and just go to work. In situations like this you need everybody chipping in and they came up with a huge one tonight. They've been playing well for us all season long."

Franzen picked up his sixth goal in six games on a power-play effort with 6:26 remaining. He tipped in a pass in the slot from Zetterberg. It was Franzen's 13th goal.

He left the game shortly after that.

"Don't know a whole bunch. They just took him off the bench, or made him sit on the bench," Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. "I couldn't use him down the stretch. I'll find out tomorrow.''

Datsyuk tied the game at one with 9:28 left in the second period on his 14th goal. He put a backhand shot past Quick from the bottom of the left circle.

Clifford opened the scoring 5:28 into the middle period when he put one past Howard from a goal-mouth scramble. It was Clifford's sixth goal.

Kopitar hit the goal post with a shot from the top of the left circle 4:11 into the second period.

Detroit dominated a scoreless first period by out-shooting Los Angeles 13-4, and the Red Wings finished with a 36-24 shot advantage.

NOTES: Zetterberg has five assists in his last two games. ... Detroit forward Todd Bertuzzi, who has missed all but seven games this season because of a pinched nerve in his back, plans to return Thursday night when the Red Wings host the Nashville Predators. Detroit concludes the regular season Saturday at Dallas. ... Red Wings forward Drew Miller will not need surgery on his broken hand. ... There were 22 NHL scouts at the game.
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