Jimmy Howard (Mike Stobe/National Hockey League)
He hasn't had the greatest season of his career, but Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard's two huge toe saves on Montreal Canadiens winger Brian Flynn were enough to carry Detroit to overtime and help the club clinch a playoff berth. The Red Wings are headed to the post-season for the 24th consecutive season.
Detroit Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard hasn't had the greatest season of his career, posting a 23-13-11 record, 2.44 goals-against average and .910 save percentage in 53 games. However, all was forgotten Thursday night against the Montreal Canadians, as Howard robbed Brian Flynn twice -- once in the first and once in the second -- with incredible toe stops.
These weren't just any split-legged saves, either. In both cases, Flynn likely should have scored. The first save came on a 2-on-0 look in front of the Red Wings' goal after Detroit defenseman Brendan Smith turned the puck over behind the net. Howard's second spectacular save came after Flynn sent Torrey Mitchell in on a partial-breakaway. Mitchell pulled up and found Flynn, the trailer on the play, but Howard got just enough to turn the attempt aside:
The Red Wings didn't pull off a victory against the Atlantic Division-leading Canadiens, but by taking the contest to overtime they picked up one point. Their single point, paired with Boston's regulation loss to Florida, was enough to secure Detroit their 24th consecutive ticket to the post-season.
In the first round of the playoffs, Detroit could draw any of Tampa Bay, Montreal or the New York Rangers. Of those three, the only team the Red Wings have a winning record against is the Rangers, who they've gone 2-0-1 against this season in three games. Saturday night, Detroit will close the regular season against the Carolina Hurricanes and a win will lock up third place in the Atlantic Division.