DETROIT — Riley Sheahan is playing his best hockey at the time of the season that is the most important.
Sheahan had a goal and an assist and the Detroit Red Wings held on for a desperately needed 3-2 victory against the Minnesota Wild on Friday at Joe Louis Arena.
The Red Wings moved within a point of Boston for third place in the Atlantic Division — and tied the Philadelphia Flyers, who have two games in hand, for the second wild card into the playoffs from the Eastern Conference.
“I think for the last few years this is the way it’s been we’ve had to battle our way into the playoffs and it’s no different this year,” said Red Wings forward Gustav Nyquist, who had an assist. “We know we control our own fate. We still have them (Bruins, next Thursday in Boston). As long as we keep winning we’re good.”
Sheahan has four goals and two assists in the past five games as Detroit tries to reach the playoffs for the 25th consecutive season.
“I don’t know, just kind of building off some points I guess and some puck luck for sure, and playing with some good players,” Sheahan said. “I think all of these guys in the offensive zone are capable of making plays, so I thought Tats and Nyquie did a great job tonight and it was a lot of fun playing.”
Minnesota is five points ahead of the Colorado Avalanche for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference. The Wild trail the Nashville Predators by four points for the first wild card.
“They got the huge two points and we didn’t,” Wild center Michael Granlund said. “Now we go to Winnipeg (Sunday) and see what happens then.”
Dylan Larkin and Tomas Tatar also scored for Detroit. Jimmy Howard made 20 saves.
Jonas Brodin and Granlund scored for Minnesota. Zach Parise and Ryan Suter had two assists apiece and Devan Dubnyk made 26 saves.
“Obviously, you don’t get the result you wanted, you can’t say you played well,” Wild center Charlie Coyle said. “They had good puck support and had a lot of time playing in our zone.”
Granlund made it 3-2 at 10:17 of the third period. He beat Howard with a wrist shot from the right circle for his 12th goal.
Sheahan restored the Red Wings two-goal lead 2:08 into the third period when he put in a rebound. It was Sheahan’s 13th goal.
“He’s been playing great, I think. He’s got good bounces right now, I think he’s making good decisions and going to the net,” Tatar said about Sheahan. “He’s pretty strong, big guy (6-3, 222 pounds). That’s his role, to kind of stick around there and he has pretty good hands around the net so he can score goals for sure. I think he was great tonight.”
Brodin made it 2-1 with 3:18 left in the second period. He beat Howard — who didn’t appear to be screened — with a one-time slap shot from the right point just inside the blue line. It was Brodin’s second goal.
“I think until they scored their second goal, we were not playing our game and then we started to play or game,” Granlund said.
Larkin gave Detroit a 1-0 lead with a power-play goal with 7:08 left in the first period.
His shot from the right circle deflected off the shaft of the stick of Suter and fluttered over the left shoulder of Dubnyk — who is 6-feet-6 — and into the net. It was Larkin’s 23rd goal and gave him 45 points, the most for a Red Wings rookie since Nicklas Lidstrom had 60 in 1991-92.
Tatar made it 2-0 Detroit 2:32 into the second period. He beat Dubnyk on the short side with a one-time shot from the bottom of the left circle at a bad angle after a no-look pass from Nyquist. It was Tatar’s 21st goal.
NOTES: Detroit has reached the playoffs in 24 consecutive seasons. … Minnesota D Jared Spurgeon did not play because of a lower-body injury. … Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk was named the NHL’s Second Star of the Month for March. Dubnyk was 10-2-1 with a 2.06 goals-against average, .927 save percentage and one shutout in 14 games in March.