PITTSBURGH (AP) — Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma was impressed by Kris Letang in his return after recovering from a stroke 10 weeks ago.
Jussi Jokinen scored in regulation and then got the game-winner in the shootout, lifting Pittsburgh to a 4-3 victory over the playoff-bound Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday night.
James Neal scored two power-play goals in regulation — his 25th and 26th of the season — for Pittsburgh, which got the 26-year-old Letang back for the first time since January.
"He's been out a long time and he looked pretty darn good out there defending against some good players," Bylsma said. "He made a difference."
Tomas Jurco, Jakub Kindl and Riley Sheahan scored for the Red Wings, who are headed to the postseason for an NHL-leading 23rd straight time.
Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury had 34 saves through overtime and stopped all three attempts in the shootout, including a spinning acrobatic glove save on Daniel Alfredsson to preserve the win.
"Players on the bench called it a (Dominik) Hasek-type save the way he put his glove out," Bylsma said. "I'm not sure I've seen a more acrobatic save from (Fleury)."
On the winning goal, Jonas Gustavsson poked the puck off Jokinen's stick but it caromed high over the Detroit goalie and into the net.
"He lost the puck and it started rolling so I was going to touch it," Gustavsson said. "It took a funny bounce and lobbed over me. I guess it was a lucky break for them."
With the scored tied 2-2, Letang — who missed 26 games — set up the go-ahead goal with 10:43 remaining in the third, his shot squeezing through Gustavsson before Jokinen found the loose puck to put Pittsburgh in front. It was Jokinen's 19th goal of the season.
"I had a lot of fun," Letang said. "It wasn't perfect for me, but I was just happy to be on the ice. Obviously it's something I missed a lot."
Sheahan forced overtime and put the Red Wings in the playoffs when he scored his seventh of the year with 1:15 left in regulation.
"It was a pretty good feeling to get that point and give us a chance in the playoffs," Sheahan said.
Detroit, like Pittsburgh, has endured injuries throughout the season, as the Red Wings are still without captain Henrik Zetterberg, who is recovering from back surgery. Top-pairing defenseman Jonathan Ericsson (finger), Daniel Cleary (knee) and Mikael Samuelsson (shoulder) also remain out.
"Everyone gets injuries," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "You just can't get injuries to too many of the wrong people. The rest of these guys have stepped up."