The Red Wings' streak of making the playoffs for 25 consecutive seasons is about to end.
Playing their third game in three days, the Red Wings lost Tuesday to the Carolina Hurricanes 4-1, marking one end of the mathematical equation that will keep the Red Wings at home.
Along with the Red Wings' loss, both Boston and Toronto had leads late in the third period in their games.
Boston needed a win of any kind, and Toronto needed to secure at least one point ( a tie through regulation time), to send the Red Wings out of the playoff picture.
If maintained, the three results would keep the Red Wings home after the April 9 regular season finale – the first time since the 1989-90 season they would have missed it.
If not maintained – the Red Wings (31-33-12, 74 points) could be eliminated Thursday.
Tomas Nosek scored the lone Red Wings' goal in the third period, his first career goal, to provide the lone game highlight.
The Red Wings didn't hold a morning skate Tuesday, not after three consecutive days worth of games.
But coach Jeff Blashill did meet with media before the game and said no one has been thinking much about the streak.
"We haven't thought much (about being eliminated) about that here in a while," Blashill said. "All we've really thought about is making sure we treat any game like a playoff game.
"That our culture is maintained, and our work ethic and selflessness and attention to detail and competitiveness are paramount and out guys have done a great job with that over the last bit."
Captain Henrik Zetterberg talked about the playoff streak last week and expressed at the disappointment of this season.
"You definitely don't want to be part of the ending of the streak," Zetterberg said. "But it is what it is. It's been a good streak, and when you're thinking back on it, you'll be proud of it.
"But right now, it's hard to talk about it because you're a big reason it's not continuing.
"We have shown this year, when we are playing well, we're a good team, it's the inconsistency that has been our problem."
Goalie Jimmy Howard stopped 28 shots and was especially good in the third period, attempting to give the Red Wings one final opportunity.
But already trailing 3-0 and generating little offense, it was a difficult uphill battle.
Lee Stempniak and Joakim Nordstrom scored Carolina first-period goals, while Jordan Staal made it 3-0 in the second period. Elias Lindholm (power play) closed out the scoring in the third period.
Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward stopped 20 shots.
The Red Wings received bad news before the game when forward Andreas Athanasiou was ruled out with a lower body injury.
Athanasiou was cross-checked in the back Monday on the game-winning goal, bowled into goalie Eddie Lack, who sustained a neck strain in the collision.
Without Athanasiou's speed and quick-strike ability, the Red Wings were in further trouble while playing their third consecutive game in 72 hours.
The Red Wings came out strong and carried the play for the first several minutes.
But Carolina gradually took control, with the Red Wings getting out-shot and out-raced to many pucks.
Stempniak made it 1-0 Carolina at 10 minutes 10 seconds of the first period.
Stempniak took a drop pass from Derek Ryan near the dot and beat Howard top corner for his 15th goal.
The last thing the Red Wings needed in Tuesday's situation was falling behind early even more, but that's exactly what happened.
Nordstrom, battling in front of the crease, put back a rebound of Brett Pesce's shot from the high slot past Howard for his 6th goal at 15:12.
After controlling most of the second period, Carolina extended the lead to 3-0 at 13:36 on Staal's goal.
Staal received a pass from Matt Tennyson, skated up wing, and sent a shot from the near the half-boards that appeared to deflect off Danny DeKeyser's stick and fluttered past Howard.