DETROIT — The Detroit Red Wings raised their sticks to the crowd and skated off the ice — and it sure felt like they were finally about to wrap up their 24th consecutive playoff berth.
Then the out-of-town scoreboard became decidedly uncooperative.
Gustav Nyquist and Pavel Datsyuk scored in the third period, and Detroit rallied past the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 on Tuesday night, but Ottawa's dramatic rally against Pittsburgh meant the Red Wings haven't secured a postseason spot just yet.
Detroit could have clinched a playoff berth with the win over Carolina if Pittsburgh had beaten Ottawa in regulation, but the Senators rallied from a three-goal deficit to win in overtime.
"We knew it wasn't going to be easy," Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard said.
Detroit's streak of playoff berths is the longest active run in the four major U.S. pro leagues.
The Red Wings won for only the sixth time in their last 18 games, and they looked sluggish again while falling behind 2-1 in the second period, but Nyquist tied it less than 2 minutes into the third, and Datsyuk scored the game winner with 8:35 to play.
Howard made 30 saves for Detroit, which was outshot 28-16 over the final two periods.
"Had a 2-1 lead after two and you would like to be able to hold on to it but they were desperate," Carolina's Eric Staal said. "A few plays in the third period, they capitalized on."
Detroit's postseason streak did not seem like it was in any jeopardy until this slump over the last month, but the Red Wings were under pressure Tuesday night to beat the last-place Hurricanes in Detroit's final home game of the regular season. It felt like a playoff atmosphere at Joe Louis Arena as the final seconds ticked down, and when the Red Wings left the ice, Pittsburgh was still leading by a goal.
But the Senators tied that game late and won in overtime, so Ottawa trails Detroit by only two points still.
"Now we've got to go win another game," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "The bottom line for us is we're in control of our situation."
The Red Wings are third in the Atlantic Division, two points ahead of Boston and Ottawa, although the Bruins have an extra game left. To miss the playoffs, Detroit would have to be passed by both those teams, as well as Pittsburgh, which is a point behind the Red Wings.
Detroit finishes up with road games Thursday and Saturday against Montreal and Carolina. The Canadiens are leading the Atlantic.
The Red Wings outshot Carolina 9-4 in a scoreless first period, and Henrik Zetterberg opened the scoring on the power play 1:29 into the second, lifting a backhander over Hurricanes goalie Anton Khudobin.
But Nathan Gerbe tied it after Detroit turned the puck over in front of its own net, and Carolina's Chris Terry scored on a rebound to make it 2-1 with 2:50 left in the period.
"As soon as they scored, I thought we really tightened up," Babcock said. "It was like we couldn't move for a while."
Nyquist tied it with a seemingly harmless wrist shot from near the top of the slot that slipped past Khudobin. It was his 27th goal of the season, and Datsyuk followed with his 25th. Tomas Tatar leads the Red Wings with 28.
NOTES: Detroit was without LW Justin Abdelkader (hand), RW Erik Cole (upper body), RW Tomas Jurco (upper body) and RW Johan Franzen (concussion). . Carolina played without C Riley Nash (concussion), D Rasmus Rissanen (knee) and D Jack Hillen (concussion).
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