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Red Wings deal another blow to Toronto's playoff hopes

Mar 27, 2011 - 5:48 AM Detroit, MI (Sports Network) - Jiri Hudler's goal at the 6:49 mark of the third period proved to be the game-winner as the Detroit Red Wings took a 4-2 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Detroit moved closer towards clinching the Central Division as it has 97 points and a five-point lead over Nashville. Also, the Red Wings kept their fledgling hopes for first overall in the Western Conference alive as the team is 10 points back of idle Vancouver.

"It's a race right now, we need every point, every game," Hudler said.

Hudler and Henrik Zetterberg each had a goal and an assist while Todd Bertuzzi and Tomas Holmstrom each scored for the Red Wings, who snapped a three-game slide.

Jimmy Howard stopped 15-of-17 shots, but had to leave the game 6:11 into the third after Toronto's Joffrey Lupul fell on him during a Toronto goal. Joey MacDonald stopped all seven shots he faced the rest of the way.

Lupul and Nazem Kadri each had a goal for the Maple Leafs, who had won four of five coming into the contest. James Reimer made 25-of-28 stops in the loss.

The defeat is a big blow to Toronto's playoff hopes as it fell seven points back of Buffalo for the final spot in the Eastern Conference and has just six games to play.

"It's a big loss for our team in the standings, but we have to respond now," Leafs defenseman Dion Phaneuf said.

Lupul's 11th goal of the year tied the game at 2-2 as the puck went into the net at the 6:11 mark that saw Howard injured on the play.

Just 38 seconds later, though, the Red Wings took the lead as a turnover in the neutral zone saw Zetterberg fire the puck to Hudler, who blasted a slap shot from the top of the left circle that beat Reimer over the glove for a 3-2 lead.

Bertuzzi put the puck into the empty net with just under a minute to play to seal the win.

Zetterberg scored on the power play just 5:05 into the contest when he backhanded the puck home from the low left side.

Toronto, though, tied the game with 2:04 to play in the first as Kadri's sharp wrister from the right circle squeezed in the short side for his second career goal.

Detroit made it a 2-1 game on the power play at the 9:17 mark of the second when Holmstrom tipped in a Niklas Kronwall shot.

Game Notes

Detroit hosts Chicago on Monday...The Maple Leafs host Buffalo on Tuesday...Toronto had won the previous three matchups with Detroit...Play was halted with 2:36 left in the second after a shot from Phaneuf broke the glass. The game went to intermission at that point, and after the final time in the second period was played, the teams moved on to the third.