Pittsburgh, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Jussi Jokinen scored the lone goal in the shootout to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 4-3 victory over the Detroit Red Wings in a preview of a possible first-round playoff matchup.
Jokinen, Pittsburgh's third skater, entered the zone close to the right boards and weaved his way towards the slot. He lost control of the puck just as Detroit netminder Jonas Gustavsson went for a poke check. The puck bounced up into the air and rolled into the net for the game winner.
"If it was (shot) the same way 100 times I don't think it would take the same angle," Gustavsson said. "It was a lucky break for them."
James Neal scored two power-play goals and Jokinen also scored in regulation for the Penguins, who won the third game in their last four. Matt Niskanen and Paul Martin both supplied two assists and Marc-Andre Fleury turned aside 34 shots in the win.
The Penguins got a boost from several players returning to the lineup. Kris Letang returned after missing 10 weeks due to a stroke he suffered on Jan. 29. The 2013 Norris Trophy finalist contributed an assist and logged 22:30 in his first game back. Sidney Crosby, Chris Kunitz, and Olli Maatta were also re-inserted into the lineup.
"I felt pretty good," Letang said. "I'm just happy to be on the ice."
Despite the loss, the Red Wings clinched a playoff berth for the 23rd consecutive season. Tomas Jurco, Jakub Kindl, and Riley Sheahan all lit the lamp as Detroit has not missed out on the postseason since 1990. Gustavsson made 21 saves in the fortunate setback.
Detroit opened the scoring at 10:41 of the first. Daniel Alfredsson's shot took a weird bounce off the glass and Jurco was present in front of the net to backhand the rebound past Fleury.
Pittsburgh tied the game on the power play at 9:03 of the second. Crosby entered the offensive zone and backhanded a slick saucer pass across to Neal, who drew Gustavsson out of his crease with a forehand-backhand move to deposit the puck into the net.
Just over five minutes later, the Red Wings went ahead after Kindl's blast from the point went past a screened Fleury. The Penguins argued that there was interference from Sheahan, who was battling with Brooks Orpik in front of Fleury. He fell onto Fleury as the puck went into the net, but it was ruled a good goal.
Neal tied it up again with another power-play marker with 3:18 left in the middle frame. He fired a shot from the left circle that deflected off defenseman Danny DeKeyser and past Gustavsson.
The hosts went ahead by a 3-2 count at 9:17 of the third. Letang came down the right-wing boards and fired a shot that squeezed through the pads of Gustavsson. Jokinen followed up the play and tapped in the rebound.
Detroit enjoyed much offensive-zone pressure down the stretch, but Gustavsson remained on the ice. The Wings pushed the beyond regulation on Sheahan's goal with 1:15 left to play, as he fired a slap shot from the right point that went over a leaping Fleury and bounced off the crossbar into the net.
Alfredsson tallied his 713th career assist, which moved him past Jean Beliveau and Scott Stevens for the 48th spot on the all-time list ... This was Detroit's first visit to Pittsburgh since a 4-1 win over the Penguins on Dec. 13, 2011 ... Wednesday's victory was the Penguins' 100th regular-season win at CONSOL Energy Center. Their record stands at 100-38-6 since October of 2010.
04/10 01:10:48 ET
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