The Detroit Red Wings have already locked up the top spot in the Western Conference and the best record in the NHL. More importantly, they’ve picked up some serious momentum heading into the postseason.
The Red Wings shoot for their sixth straight victory as they host the Columbus Blue Jackets in the regular-season finale for both teams.
Detroit beat St. Louis 3-2 on Thursday, despite getting off just 12 shots— seven fewer than its previous season low. The victory guaranteed the Red Wings the Presidents’ Trophy, awarded to the team with the best record in the league.
Detroit has 109 points, three more than Tampa Bay, which also has one game remaining
“It’s a tribute to all of the guys for all of the nights nobody cares about,” coach Dave Lewis said. “They find ways to play through injuries, through sickness, play through different rules, and find a way to win. That’s been our mark all season long.”
“The one thing about the Presidents’ Trophy is it’s a tribute to the grind of the season,” Lewis added. “Once the playoffs start, it means nothing.”
Marc Lamothe, Detroit’s fourth goalie behind Dominik Hasek, Curtis Joseph and Manny Legace, made 26 saves for his second career win and first since 1999. Hasek is on injured reserve with a groin injury, and Lewis announced Tuesday that Joseph would most likely sit out his seventh straight game with an injured right ankle.
The Blue Jackets lost 4-2 to the Colorado Avalanche on Friday—their third straight defeat since a four-game winning streak. Nikolai Zherdev and Jaroslav Spacek each had a goal and an assist for Columbus, which has just two more points than the conference-worst Chicago Blackhawks.
Detroit beat Columbus 3-2 on Wednesday. Blue Jackets defenseman Rostislav Klesla was knocked out for the rest of the season when he was checked into the open door jamb in front of the Reds Wings bench by Kirk Maltby—a hit that Columbus general manager Doug MacLean called “gutless.”
“You can’t say he (Maltby) didn’t see the door open because it was open for four seconds—we watched it on video,” Columbus interim coach Gerard Gallant said. “He just drove him into the door.”