Leafs' playoff hopes dwindle with loss to Red Wings
Toronto remains 10th in the East with 78 points
Joe Louis Arena, Detroit
Jiri Hudler (DET) — 1G, 1A
Henrik Zetterberg (DET) — 1G, 1A
Dion Phaneuf (TOR) — 1A
The Red Wings won a game but got a scare concerning their playoff prospects.
Jiri Hudler broke a third-period tie and added an assist, Henrik Zetterberg also had a goal and an assist and Detroit beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-2 on Saturday night in an Original Six matchup before a lively and enthusiastic crowd featuring a significant amount of Toronto fans.
Tomas Holmstrom and Todd Bertuzzi also scored for Detroit (44-22-9), which snapped a three-game winless streak (0-2-1). Nicklas Kronwall had two assists and Jimmy Howard made 15 saves before leaving 6:11 into the third period when Toronto's Joffrey Lupul fell on him as Lupul tied it 2-2.
East playoff race
|5. Tampa Bay||75||91|
|7. NY Rangers||76||87|
* = earned playoff berth
"It doesn't appear to be anything significant," Detroit general manger Ken Holland said about Howard. "He's day-to-day, probably sprain or a strain."
He added Howard would have a precautionary MRI and would only say it was an "upper-body" injury.
Usual backup goalie Chris Osgood is on the long-term injured list because he's been slow to heal after sports hernia surgery in January. He can't be activated until only two games remain in the regular season.
Joey MacDonald stopped nine shots in relief of Howard.
"It's one of those things. You got to be ready and I thought our guys did a great job," said MacDonald, who got the win. "We didn't give them a whole lot in the third. I had one good save off a face-off that kind of got me into the game."
Nazem Kadri also scored for Toronto (34-32-10), whose already slim playoff chances suffered a huge blow. James Reimer made 25 saves.
"Big loss for our team in the standings but we have to respond," Maple Leafs' captain Dion Phaneuf said.
Hudler broke the 2-2 tie 6:49 into the third — just 38 seconds after Lupul's tying goal — on a slap shot from the top of the left circle. It was his 10th goal.
"Turnover ... Z (Zetterberg) had it on his stick, saw me right away," Hudler said. "I wasn't thinking because I knew right away what I'm gonna do and thank God it went in."
Bertuzzi, back after missing a game with a sore back, added an empty-net goal in the final minute. He has 15 goals.
Lupul tied it when he swept the puck in while lying on Howard. It was Lupul's 11th goal.
"The puck actually hit me in the stomach. I was able to see it as I was going to the ice and put it in," Lupul said. "I had my eyes on the puck ... I didn't think I was in the crease. Phil (Kessel) was shooting, so he (Howard) was coming out."
Holland thought the goal should have been waved off.
"I thought it should have been no goal, no foul, no penalty." Holland said.
Holmstrom gave Detroit a 2-1 lead 9:17 into the second period with a power-play goal. He tipped in Kronwall's shot from the point. Holmstrom has 15 goals.
Zetterberg opened the scoring 5:05 on a power play into the game when he beat Reimer with a backhand shot from the bottom of the left circle. It was Zetterberg's 22nd goal.
Kadri's second goal of the season tied it with 2:04 left in the first period. His wrist shot from the right circle beat Howard, who was screened.