You think maybe we shouldn't have spotted these guys three?
The Red Wings extended their winning streak to seven games on Friday night by jumping on the Buffalo Sabres early, building a 3-0 lead in the first period, and then coasting to an easy win over a team that had no consistent scoring threats. If not for a gift goal late and the Wings backing off to only 75% speed, this one could have turned into a laugher.
The refs called a fairly consistent game in this one, awarding five power play chances to Detroit and four to Buffalo. The Wings were able to capitalize on one of their opportunities while holding the Sabres off the scoreboard on seven shots. Of the two power plays, Detroit's was by far the more dangerous one. Once again, the Wings outshot their opponents by a fair margin, registering 36 attempts on Buffalo's net to only 28 the other way.
Scoring and plus/minus analysis after the jump
1st Period 08:50 - Detroit Goal: Jakub Kindl (snap shot) from Tomas Holmstrom and Justin Abdelkader
Both teams are changing near the midway point of the first, as Henrik Zetterberg throws a pass from his own zone off Holmstrom's stick at center ice for the Wings to change behind the play. Homer chases into the zone behind the Buffalo net where Joe Finley misplays the puck here, allowing Holmstrom to come in and sweep it up the boards. Ville Leino is the first player on it, but he takes a bit to bring it under control and skates it deeper into his own end as a result. Homer continues his strong forecheck and forces Leino to chip it over him. The puck goes too far for Finley on the other side of Homer and slides around behind the net. With Homer chasing, Abdelkader steps in to complete the forecheck and finally turn the puck onto Detroit's possession with a little bit of room to cycle. Homer carries the puck up the boards while Abby goes to the front and Drew Miller stands to the inside to give him an outlet. Holmstrom finally runs out of real estate and passes around Kassian to Kindl at the point. Without wasting a beat, Kindl throws it at the front of the net. Enroth does not track this puck well at all and it beats him close to the body on the glove side. This is a garbage goal for Enroth to give up. The puck definitely deflects off Kassian's stick, but that's at the point and the shot isn't coming in particularly fast. The goalie is just not mentally sharp. I like Abby and Miller's positioning, but I don't think they were a big enough factor to count here. What was a big factor was Holmstrom's forecheck, which is going to earn Homer a bonus plus.
Penalty Adjustment: Just 23 seconds after the goal, Detroit goes on the power play as Darren Helm gets the jump on Derek Roy after a neutral zone faceoff. Roy is caught flat-footed and hooks Helm to keep him from getting the puck. This is good footwork by Helm to draw this call. Darren Helm will get a plus.
1st Period 13:38 - Detroit Goal (PP): Johan Franzen (wrist shot) from Nicklas Lidstrom and Pavel Datsyuk
The Penalty - Jason Pominville (high-sticking): Dumbass play by Pominville in his own offensive zone. No adjustment.
Detroit gets the puck off the faceoff on the power play and sets up shop. After a shot attempt from the tip of the umbrella goes wide from Lidstrom, Homer picks it up behind the net and sweeps it around the boards to Datsyuk resetting high. Datsyuk goes to Lidstrom to carry back into the middle. Paul Gaustad follows high here to try and prevent the return pass to Datsyuk as he's a threat to take one of those in-cuts from the point that the Wings have been doing on the PP this season. However, Robyn Regehr has not made the proper adjustment to the flow of this play and skates to Holmstrom in front of the net (who is already covered by Sekera) instead of going out to cover Johan Franzen who has stepped into the gaping hole in the middle of the ice. Thanks to Gaustad's stick being in the lane between Lidstrom and Datsyuk instead of being in the middle, Lidstrom has the room he needs to put a slap-pass into Franzen to gather from his skate and shoot past a screened Enroth for the eventual game-winner. This is a good setup, but again, the Sabres badly misplay it. Tomas Holmstrom will get the screener's assist on this play. Enroth has to look around him while the play develops and it keeps him from getting back around on Franzen on time. Also, Homer's positioning prevents Enroth from being able to step out farther and challenge the shooter.
1st Period 14:41 - Detroit Goal: Valtteri Filppula (wrist shot) from Henrik Zetterberg
The Red Wings clear their own zone from some Buffalo pressure and then force the Sabres to regroup within their own blue line. While the D sets behind him, Zetterberg goes in to forecheck alone. Z pressures Ehrhoff, who passes to Jochen Hecht just on the other side of his own blue line. Hecht thinks he has more time to make a turn and wait for his team to get set up moving forward, but Z gets on him immediately, steals the puck, and gets it back into the Buffalo zone. Hecht turns to try to steal it back while Hudler jumps into the zone and makes a run at the net to draw Marc-Andre Gragnani low into the zone. Z wins the positioning battle inside the zone and finally hits a streaking Filppula with a pass and room to skate. Flip gives Gragnani a shoulder fake to the outside and gives himself room to bring it on his forehand into the low slot, where he rifles a five-hole goal. Hudler will earn a non-touch assist on this play for drawing the defense low enough into the zone to give Filppula room to maneuver. Zetterberg will earn a bonus plus-and-a-half on the play to steal it from Hecht and body him off to buy time for the play to develop.
Penalty Adjustment: Late in the first, the Sabres are cycling in the Wings' zone when Thomas Vanek decides to try and make a dumbass cross-zone pass to M-A Gragstupidlastname. Valtteri Filppula is there to pick it off and head the other way. The rush forces Thomas Vanek to hold Filppula to prevent a chance. Filppula will earn a plus.
2nd Period Penalty Adjustments:
03:12 - Justin Abdelkader (tripping): Abby is battling on the boards in the corner of the Detroit end. While trying to tie up Zack Kassian's stick, he ties up his feet as well, bringing the kid down. Abby will get a minus.
07:16 - Niklas Kronwall (tripping): Kronner misplays a puck behind his own net and then has an outlet pass blocked by Derek Roy, who keeps skating to recover. At full speed, it looks like a nothing play, but replay shows Kronwall kept his leg extended for no good reason. This is absolutely a trip and a good call by the refs. Kronwall gets a minus.
11:49 - Valtteri Filppula (hooking): Christian Ehrhoff leads a rush into the Detroit end. As an answer, Valtteri Filppula believes that lazily jabbing his stick into Ehrhoff's midsection is the best course of action. This, of course, is stupid. Filppula will get a minus.
15:41 - Derek Roy (tripping): Kronwall skates the puck from behind the Detroit net with Roy skating in to pressure. For no good reason, Roy jabs Kronner's skates out from under him. This isn't a drawn penalty, so there will be no adjustment.
Penalty Adjustment: 2:58 into the third, the Wings take another penalty. This time, they're cycling in the Buffalo zone when Drew Miller mishandles the puck at the point (where he's covering for Jakub Kindl). This creates an odd-man chance for the Sabres and eventually a partial breakaway for Nathan Gerbe. Kindl skates on the backcheck, but pops Gerbe in the shoulder/head with a lazy and completely ineffective stick tap from behind. It's a dumb play by two Red Wings, so both Miller and Kindl will pick up minuses here.
Penalty Adjustment: Midway through the third, Holmstrom causes forechecking havoc again. This time, he catches Marc-Andre MaryPoppins and steals the puck from him to create a chance. Marc-Andre Grunka-Lunka is forced to hook Homer and take a penalty. This will earn Holmstrom a plus.
3rd Period 13:47 - Buffalo Goal: Jochen Hecht (wrist shot) from Jason Pominville and Ville Leino
The Wings are still forechecking aggressively up 3-0 in the second half of the final period when it burns them. Erhhoff goes from behind the net to Marc-Andre Gragjokesnotfunnyanymore in the corner, who goes to Ville Leino on the half-boards. Here, Ian White decides to pinch for no good reason and gets the Wings caught when Leino finds Pominville streaking on the far side of the ice while Jochen Hecht joins him on the near side. The two come in on Lidstrom, who doesn't get his stick on the saucer pass and Pominville goes to Hecht to shoot past a very hung-out-to-dry Jimmy Howard. I'm going to give White an extra minus on the bad pinch and I'm going to absolve Howard of blame on this one. He'd have needed to have gotten lucky to have stopped this one.
3rd Period 18:43 - Detroit Goal (EN): Pavel Datsyuk (wrist shot) unassisted
The Sabres pull their goalie late to try to close the two-goal gap. Datsyuk battles to win a defensive zone faceoff where Zetterberg gets bodied off on the boards by Jochen Hecht. Z gets his stick on the puck, but it's a terrible play, as he pokes it past Brad Stuart and straight onto the stick of Tyler Ennis in front of the net. Lidstrom gets his stick on the shot attempt and forces it wide where Stuart clears up the boards. Christian Ehrhoff collects the puck at the point, but under pressure of Bertuzzi, he lazily throws a blind backhander straight to Pavel Datsyuk in the middle of the zone. Datsyuk skates it to center and puts it in the empty net to seal the game. Zetterberg is going to lose his plus on this play for turning it over into the slot in his own zone and getting bailed out by Lidstrom (who will get a bonus half-plus). Bertuzzi will pick up half a non-touch assist for being there and allowing Ehrhoff to make a stupid pass.
+1 to Pavel Datsyuk and Valtteri Filppula: Consistently the best backcheckers on the ice, these two drove play better than their teammates and deserved extra credit for it.
+0.5 to Chris Conner and Darren Helm: I was really impressed with both of them at even strength and on the penalty kill. I would much rather have Conner in the lineup right now than Emmerton.
+1 to Niklas Kronwall: Kronner came out an overall minus one for this game and that does not match up with how he played. He played tough minutes and did his job very well.
Most of the Wings' squad looked very good in the first period and then pretty mediocre for the rest of the game. Guys like Kindl, Franzen, and Hudler started on track to earn pluses, but faded as the Sabres took over the game and the Wings all but stopped creating scoring chances in favor of sitting on the lead. Don't get me wrong, I'm happy about this win, but there were some bad habits that started to show late against the Sabres and I don't want those being on full display come Sunday.
Ed note: Recap up tomorrow.
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