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Red Wings say goodbye to Joe Louis Arena in style

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Despite having their streak of consecutive playoff appearances recently snapped, the Detroit Red Wings still bid farewell to Joe Louis Arena in style on Sunday.

The Red Wings closed the doors of their aging home arena since 1979, their home for four Stanley Cup titles and a wealth of memories over the years, with a 4-1 victory over the visiting New Jersey Devils.

And of course, why break from another tradition?

Riley Sheahan, early in the first period, finally snapped his scoring drought after going an astounding 79 games without a goal this season, and Detroit continued to a season-ending victory from there.

Wouldn’t you know it: Sheahan scored Detroit’s fourth goal and the final goal at Joe Louis Arena.

Henrik Zetterberg, playing in career game No. 1,000, all with Detroit, also had a goal and an assist in the win.

Next season, the Red Wings move into their new home — Little Caesars Arena.

But Sunday provided an opportunity for former Red Wings legends and fans of the team to have one final moment with The Joe.

“I thought it was a great building to play in,” Lightning GM and Red Wings great Steve Yzerman told NHL.com. “Every time you stepped on the ice for a game, you were always excited to play the game. It just had a really nice atmosphere in there. It was beautiful in its simplicity.”

WATCH LIVE: NHL on NBCSN — Push for the Playoffs

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It’s the final day of the NHL regular season, and NBCSN has you covered for the last Push for the Playoffs.

There are numerous games today that will determine the final playoff picture, with four first-round match-ups still to be set. NBCSN will provide live look-in coverage to those games today with post-season implications.

— The Edmonton Oilers (playing the Vancouver Canucks tonight) and Anaheim Ducks (facing off versus the L.A. Kings) are still vying for the Pacific Division crown.

— The Toronto Maple Leafs (playing the Columbus Blue Jackets) are looking to finish third in the Atlantic Division, in order to avoid the last Eastern Conference wild card spot and a first-round match-up with the Washington Capitals.

Coverage starts at 7 p.m. ET and continues throughout the night. You can catch it on NBCSN or online via the live stream.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

Here are some links to check out for tonight’s NHL action:

NHL on NBCSN: The Push for the Playoffs

Oilers clinch at least one round on home ice, lock Sharks into third in Pacific

Maple Leafs win a thriller over Penguins, clinch last playoff spot

Bruins lose to Capitals in potential first-round playoff match-up

Video: Riley Sheahan (finally) scores first goal of the season to avoid historic goalless drought

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On the final day of the NHL’s regular season, and the final game at Joe Louis Arena, Riley Sheahan finally scored his first goal — in the 80th game of his campaign.

Just over seven minutes into Sunday’s game versus the New Jersey Devils, Sheahan accepted a pass, made a move to the front of the net and beat Cory Schneider top corner with his shot.

He celebrated with a fist pump before he was mobbed by his teammates.

Sheahan has gone an entire year without scoring. His last goal? April 9, 2016, versus the New York Rangers.

A former first-round pick, Sheahan scored 14 goals last season and 13 the year before. But this has been an incredible drought for the 25-year-old forward, as outlined at PHT earlier today:

In the history of the league (at least as long as shot on goal data has been tracked) there have only ever been 11 players that have played at least 70 games in a season, recorded more than 100 shots on goal, and not scored a goal.

It has never happened to a forward.

Not only has it never happened to a forward, there have only been two forwards that have reached the 70-game, 100-shot markers and only scored one goal — Shawn Thornton in 2009-10, and Tim Jackman in 2011-12. And neither one of them had anywhere near the skill or offensive pedigree that Sheahan has.

“You hope the adversity turns out to be a positive,” Red Wings GM Ken Holland told USA Today. “Maybe it will give him a different perspective on summer training.”

Olli Maatta returns to Penguins lineup vs. Rangers, Sidney Crosby sits out

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Olli Maatta hasn’t played an NHL game in almost two months, but that will change today against the New York Rangers.

Out since the middle of February following hand surgery, Maatta will return to the Penguins lineup for the regular season finale, which is good news for the defending champions after the developments from earlier this week when they learned that their top blue liner Kris Letang is gone four-to-six months after neck surgery.

The Penguins and Rangers are both off to the playoffs. Today’s result has no impact at all in the standings. Pittsburgh is locked into second in the Metropolitan Division, while New York will finish as the first wild card team.

Given all the injuries they’ve dealt with this season, it’s hardly a surprise that the Penguins are also sitting Sidney Crosby, the league’s leading goal scorer with 44 — four better than Auston Matthews and Nikita Kucherov for the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy.

Video: Hurricanes fans give Bryan Bickell standing ovation after he announces retirement

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In his final home game with the Carolina Hurricanes, fans in Raleigh gave Bryan Bickell a standing ovation during the third period of Saturday’s game against the St. Louis Blues.

Bickell, who was diagnosed in November with Multiple Sclerosis, has announced he will retire at the end of this season. The Hurricanes finish their schedule off Sunday in Philadelphia.

He took to the ice to salute the crowd, his teammates and opponents as they stopped to salute him in a very touching moment.

Afterward, he explained the decision to retire.

“The biggest thing is my health, and I don’t want to take risks,” said Bickell, per the Raleigh News and Observer. “It’s tough to leave, but I’m excited about life after hockey, and I want to be healthy. To watch my kids grow will be important.”

That wasn’t the only emotional moment across the league Saturday.

Craig Cunningham was honored with a ceremonial puck drop prior to the Coyotes’ game against the Minnesota Wild.

Cunningham had part of his left leg amputated in order to prevent infection after a medical emergency just before the start of an AHL game in November. Despite that, Cunningham has since returned to the ice.

From ESPN:

Cunningham smiled widely as he shook hands with players from both teams before leaving the ice. But his biggest smile of the day might have come earlier, when — while wearing a special prosthetic for skates — he skated around the Gila Arena ice and even did a little stickhandling with a puck along the way.

Tonight also marked the final NHL game for Panthers forward Shawn Thornton, who is retiring.

His teammates payed a special tribute to him after a 3-0 win over Buffalo.

From the Miami Herald:

Thornton’s teammates waited for him at the mouth of their tunnel, their sticks held high as he skated onto the ice one last time — this time as the first star honoree.

“I wasn’t sure if they were making fun of me or being sincere,” Thornton joked afterward.

“The way these guys have treated me the last couple days, I can’t say enough, can’t thank them enough. You try and be a good teammate; you try and, you know, do what you can. Obviously they definitely appreciated it, so thank you to them.”