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Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Wings motor into playoffs for 22nd straight season

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DALLAS -- Make it 22 and counting for the Detroit Red Wings.

They are headed to the playoffs for the 22nd straight season after Henrik Zetterberg had two goals and an assist in a 3-0 victory over the Dallas Stars on Saturday night.

Jimmy Howard made 17 saves to post his fifth shutout of the season as Detroit secured the seventh spot in the Western Conference. It's the lowest playoff seed for the Red Wings since the NHL moved to the 1 vs. 8 conference format in 1993.

Jonathan Ericsson also scored and Pavel Datsyuk had three assists for the Red Wings, who own the longest active playoff streak in major professional sports, six years longer than the San Antonio Spurs' stretch of post-season play in the NBA.

"To be able to be back in the playoffs is a great feeling," Howard said. "The streak means a lot to all of us, it just says how high the bar was set before us. It's good for us to go out there and have high expectations."

After losing several veterans who contributed to their four Stanley Cups and six finals appearances during the course of the streak, including future Hall of Fame defenceman Nicklas Lidstrom, the Red Wings had some uncharacteristic struggles early in the season, but managed to bounce back and finish strong.

Detroit will face second-seeded Anaheim in the first round of the playoffs.

Hot Jackets come up short

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Jack Johnson scored the go-ahead goal with 4:48 left and the Columbus Blue Jackets capped a remarkable turnaround with a 3-1 victory over the Nashville Predators on Saturday.

But despite that win, Columbus was eliminated from the playoff race when the Minnesota Wild beat the Colorado Avalanche later on Saturday to earn the final post-season spot in the Western Conference.

Coming into the night, the Blue Jackets were tied for eighth in the West with Minnesota, each with 53 points.

Detroit beat Dallas on Saturday and clinched the No. 7 seed.

The Blue Jackets were on the short end of tiebreakers against both the Wild and Red Wings.

Billed as the biggest regular-season game in franchise history, the Blue Jackets were shut out by Chris Mason before scoring three times in the third period to go 8-1-0 in their final nine -- all with the spectre of a playoff spot hanging over them.

Old guy wins scoring title

TAMPA, Fla. -- Martin St. Louis made history.

The 37-year old Lightning centre became the oldest player to win the league scoring title, finishing with a goal and an assist in Tampa Bay's 5-3 loss to the Florida Panthers in the season finale for two non-playoff teams on Saturday night.

St. Louis won the Art Ross Trophy with 60 points, three more than teammate Steven Stamkos.

"I'd trade that for a chance to play in the playoffs any day," said St. Louis, who had 17 goals and 43 assists.

"You try to finish strong and play the right way," St. Louis said. "It's something nobody can take away from you. I'm proud."

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 28, 2013 B3

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