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Apr 12, 2024 3:35 pm

Red Wings focus on moving up, visit Maple Leafs

dylan larkin

The Detroit Red Wings’ push for the playoffs has been slowed to a crawl after the team dropped seven of their past nine games (2-4-3).

The Red Wings (38-32-9, 85 points) will look for a reversal of fortune on Saturday night when they visit Auston Matthews and the Toronto Maple Leafs (46-24-9, 101 points).

Detroit’s latest setback was a 6-5 overtime loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday. That additional point secured by Pittsburgh represents its lead over the Red Wings, Washington Capitals and Philadelphia Flyers in the race for the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.

“Hard to get one point,” Detroit captain Dylan Larkin said after the loss to the Penguins. “Again, they got two and that’s a team we need to catch. The positive is the no quit. They played pretty well and we’re right there.”

Lucas Raymond collected three goals and an assist and Larkin and Alex DeBrincat each recorded a three-point performance for the Red Wings. Larkin, who had one goal and two assists on Thursday, has seven points (three goals, four assists) in his past five games overall.

While not pleased with the result, Detroit coach Derek Lalonde praised his team’s play Thursday.

“Guys did a great job,” Lalonde said. “I don’t usually address the guys after a game, but I had to address them after this simply because that was a huge point. … I give our guys a ton of credit for battling, staying in it and getting a point. There’s still a path there because of that point.”

Like the Red Wings, the Maple Leafs fell on the wrong side of a 6-5 decision on Thursday despite Matthews scoring twice to boost his NHL-leading goal total to 68. He has recorded the most goals in the NHL since Hall of Famer Mario Lemieux had 69 in 1995-96.

Matthews is riding a seven-game goal streak and a 13-game point streak (13 goals, 11 assists).

“It’s remarkable what he’s doing,” captain John Tavares said of Matthews. “I think there’s no question about it, we are seeing something truly special, so just appreciate it every night and as a team, we want to do a good job with our game as a whole to maximize when you have a player like that who can put the puck in the net as frequently as he can.”

While we’re sure that Matthews appreciates the kind words, he wasn’t too pleased with his team’s performance on Thursday.

“A little sloppy at times,” Matthews said. “Didn’t seem like we were as dialed in as we should have been.”

Matthews has been held off the scoresheet in both meetings this season with the Red Wings. The Maple Leafs posted a 3-2 win Nov. 17 in the NHL’s Global Series in Stockholm before Detroit responded with a 4-2 victory Jan. 14 in Toronto.

Tavares contributed a goal and two assists in the initial meeting with the Red Wings.

Larkin, who has a career-high-tying 32 goals, scored and set up a goal in the more recent encounter with the Maple Leafs.

–Field Level Media

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