The Detroit Red Wings wrapped up an unusual season Saturday, engaging in a back-and-forth affair that showed their fortitude.
Their matchup Saturday at Nationwide Arena against the Columbus Blue Jackets went to overtime before the Wings lost, 5-4.
“These games, especially this one in particular — you get to the last game and both teams are out, they’re not really super fun to play in,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “But we put ourselves in this spot. I would give our guys credit again for hanging in there and finding a way to get it to overtime. You’d like to win it and go off with a good taste.”
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The Wings (19-27-10) finish seventh in the Central Division but will have to wait to find out where they finish in the overall standings, because the pandemic has forced the Vancouver Canucks to reschedule games through May 19.
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Calvin Pickard got the start in net. Jakub Vrana put the Wings up early, but Cam Atkinson took advantage of being left alone to tie the game in the first period. Danny DeKeyser scored for the second time in two games when he fired a shot that snuck underneath Matiss Kivlenieks’ left arm, but Oliver Bjorkstrand scored less than two minutes later.
With Columbus’ Max Domi serving a penalty for roughing Gustav Lindstrom, the Blue Jackets converted on a shorthanded goal by Eric Robinson , but the Wings also converted, with Sam Gagner scoring a power play goal to tie the game 3-3 .
Jack Roslovic and Valtteri Filppula traded goals late in the third period, and Domi ended the game with 21 seconds to play in overtime.
Joe Veleno, a first-round pick from 2018, celebrated his first NHL goal Friday, but he and Givani Smith were assigned to the taxi squad Saturday. Veleno appeared in five games since returning from playing with Malmö in the Swedish Hockey League, making a favorable impression that he’s ready to be a regular next season.
Vrana keeps points coming
Early in the first period, defenseman Dennis Cholowski lined up the puck at the left point and ripped a shot towards the net. Vrana got a piece of the puck, picking up his second goal in two nights. It was Vrana’s eighth goal since coming over from the Washington Capitals on April 12 in the Anthony Mantha trade. This wasn’t a goal that showed off Vrana’s hands so much as simply his knack for being in the right spot at the right time. Vrana also assisted on Filppula’s goal to reach 11 points in 11 games.
Svechnikov’s last stand
With Veleno assigned to the taxi squad, Evgeny Svechnikov entered the lineup for the first time since May 1, in what may well have been his last game in a Wings uniform. The Wings drafted Svechnikov at No. 19 overall in 2015, but his development has been hindered by injuries and he was waived twice this season, a clear indication he’s not part of their future plans. Svechnikov assisted on DeKeyser’s goal. In limited opportunities, Svechnikov managed to produce eight points in 21 games.
Contact Helene St. James at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames. Read more on the Detroit Red Wings and sign up for our Red Wings newsletter. Her book, The Big 50: The Detroit Red Wings is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Triumph Books. Personalized copies available via her e-mail.