Red Wings top Maple Leafs, stay in playoff hunt

Posted at 10:34 PM, Apr 02, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-02 22:50:19-04
TORONTO (AP) -- Brad Richards and Mike Green each had a goal and an assist and the Detroit Red Wings beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-2 on Saturday night.
Jimmy Howard made 32 saves for the Red Wings, who moved past the Boston Bruins for third place in the Atlantic Division with 91 points.
Kyle Quincey also scored for Detroit, which is trying to extend its streak of making the playoffs to 24 seasons.
Though now holding tentative control of a playoff position, the Red Wings are in danger of missing the playoffs for the first time since 1990.
"Our focus at the beginning of the year with this hockey team though was to try to win a Stanley Cup," Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said when asked about the streak before the game.
"To do that you have to gain entrance into the Stanley Cup playoffs and that's been our singular focus to do that more than anything else."
Colin Greening and William Nylander scored for Toronto and Garret Sparks added 23 saves for the Leafs.
The Red Wings beat Minnesota on Friday night and raced out to a 2-0 first-period lead against the Leafs.
"Our biggest thing is we've got to win our own hockey games for things to matter," Blashill said. "If we don't win we won't get in."
Richards opened the scoring by snapping a 10-game goal drought with his 10th goal this season. With Detroit on a power play, the 35-year-old fired a shot past Sparks from a spot in the left faceoff circle.
Sparks has struggled in his first NHL season, with an .898 save percentage heading into his 15th NHL appearance.
He was beaten by a point shot from Ericsson less than 10 minutes after the goal from Richards, increasing the Detroit lead to 2-0. Sparks was fighting plenty of traffic on the play and appeared to lock legs briefly with teammate Morgan Rielly, impeding his ability to make the save.
He appealed to referee Greg Kimmerly shortly after the goal, believing, it appeared, that he was interfered with.
Down 2-0, Toronto trailed after the first period for the 30th time this season.
The Leafs rallied early into the second, scoring less than three minutes into the period on Greening's fourth goal of the season. The goal was spurred by the efforts of 19-year-old Nylander, who picked up his eighth point in 18 NHL games on the play.
With the puck on his tape, Nylander wheeled from side to side and through the slot of the Detroit zone before firing a pass from right to left through the Red Wings crease. The pass pinged off by the skate of a Red Wings defender before it was tapped in by Greening.
Things turned chippy between the Original Six rivals a short while later.
His helmet shoved off by Detroit center Luke Glendening behind the net in the offensive zone, Leafs forward Nazem Kadri raced after Glendening and cross-checked him in the shoulder and head area. Kadri was given a two-minute penalty and then given a word or two by Red Wings veteran Darren Helm a few minutes later.
Kadri was fined $5,000 on Friday for diving, citations he vehemently disagreed with prior to the game. "I didn't agree with it nor did I like it," he said.
Starting on consecutive nights after a 20-save performance in a victory on Friday, Howard was big for the Wings as the Leafs made their push to even the score late in the second.
Serving as the backup to Petr Mrazek for most of the season, Howard stopped 13 of 14 shots in the period before coming up with a couple key stops early in the third. The 32-year-old's best save of the game came on Kadri's rebound attempt less than a minute into the final period and 46 seconds before Quincey wired a shot past the left pad of Sparks to increase the Detroit lead back to two.
"He's done a good job," Blashill said of Howard's recent play before the game.
Nylander scored his fifth NHL goal with an empty-net, Detroit hanging on for the one-goal victory.
NOTES: The Leafs recalled 20-year-old Frederik Gauthier to replace an injured Milan Michalek prior to the game. Acquired in a February trade which sent Dion Phaneuf to Ottawa, Michalek was shut down for the season because of a knee injury.