Detroit broke their one-game losing streak thanks to a visit to Buffalo to play the Sabres wearing the worst jerseys in the NHL since Dallas wore the Mooterus. 3-1 was the score of a game that was probably tighter than it should have been.
Honestly, I felt the Wings got the advantage in the reffing standard in this game, especially on a missed call in the third which would have given Buffalo a 5-on-3 opportunity. Detroit went 1-for-3 on their man advantage while keeping the Sabres to 0-for-2 while also outshooting the Sabres 34 to 22.
Jonas Gustavsson had a very good game for the Wings in stopping 21 of 22 Sabres shots, including a couple of big saves. He had a couple of scary rebounds, but overall played well.
1st Period 07:47 - Buffalo Goal: Cody Hodgson (backhand) from Drew Stafford
Buffalo gets on the board first on another awful defensive zone turnover. After Ericsson fights off Ennis and gets a zone clear, the Sabres get the puck back at center off a Nyquist feed that Zetterberg doesn't reach. After a line change and a dump-in caused by a Kronwall step-up, Abdelkader goes behind the Wings' net to retrieve the puck. Hodgson chases him down, but Abby is able to escape to the corner before Matt Moulson steps up on him, forcing him to pass it off. Abby goes to Helm at the top of the circle and the Wings start the transition with Kronwall ready to step up on the rush. Unfortunately, it doesn't get that far, as five feet up the ice, Helm turns it over to an on-rushing Stafford, who picks it off cleanly and catches the Wings moving the wrong way. Stafford immediately goes to Hodgson in the slot all alone skating in on Gustavsson. Hodgson outwaits Gustavsson, who stretches out very well to try and take away the shot, but is left unable to do anything about the play when Hodgson goes behind the net and wraps it inside the near post behind him. Alfredsson will be cleared. He's standing at the point as another outlet option for Abdelkader and isn't at fault here. I think Abdelkader made the right read here. Stafford has the ability to step up on either of his high passing options and Helm is the better choice with more ice to work with, who so happens to be already moving up ice. If Stafford misses, this is a 3-on-2 rush thanks to a good outlet for Abdelkader, who is made unable to get back on the play by Moulson finishing his check. I'm going to clear Abdelkader's minus for this. I'm going to halve Kronwall's minus. I think his decision to join the rush is a good one, but by the time the play goes south, I think he took the wrong angle. Ericsson will keep his minus, as his responsibility is to seal this post and he doesn't get to it on time. The Helm turnover will earn him a minus and a half. This is another in a line of unacceptable defensive zone turnovers by Helm. He has to get better at this.
2nd Period 00:30 - Detroit Goal: Darren Helm (backhand) from Daniel Alfredsson and Justin Abdelkader
The Wings pull even on the first shift of the 2nd period thanks to good forechecking and a few turnovers by the Sabres' defense. Helm and Alfredsson work on Myers in the corner, eventually creating a turnover as he tries to outlet to the middle and instead passes it straight to Abdelkader for a one-timer that just misses. Smith collects at the opposite-side point and skates across the blue line trying to create a lane for a shot. The shot is kicked out of the high slot to the side boards where Abby gets there first thanks to Leino falling down. Just before Myers crushes Abby in the corner, he goes behind the net to Alfredsson. Tallinder tries to contain Alfie, but he can't stop a very quick backhanded pass to Helm coming up through the middle. Ennis is there to prevent an immediate shot, but Helm spans off that coverage and unleashes a backhand that beats Miller to the stick side and ties it. Helm, Alfredsson, and Abdelkader will each get a bonus plus for their forechecking work to create turnovers and retrieve the puck. Additionally, I'm going to give Smith a half-plus. He covers a lot of ground to not only keep the puck in off the Abdelkader miss, but also to create a good lane for his shot.
3rd Period 11:43 - Detroit Goal (PP): Johan Franzen (wrist shot) from Henrik Zetterberg and Niklas Kronwall
The Wings take the lead on a power play goal after a lengthy period of dominance in the third period leads to two power play opportunities. Buffalo gets a clear off a blocked Kronwall pass at the point. Kronner skates back into the Wings' zone to reset the zone entry before the Wings turn back up ice with it, going with the standard setup where a D-man challenges the middle lane to back off the defenders thanks to two guys standing along both boards at the offensive blue line. Kronner drags Girgensons slightly to the left before dropping it off to Zetterberg coming behind with speed. Z gains the line in the middle with Franzen joining on his right wing while the point men hang back and Abdelkader comes late. As soon as Z crosses, Stafford steps over to challenge him and Ehrhoff moves slightly to the inside. This movement makes room for Z to feather a pass to Franzen in stride. Mule picks it up and curls just to the outside of the faceoff dot before cutting back in. Both Ehrhoff and Stafford converge, but there's just enough room for Mule to fire a wrister from low in the circle. The puck jumps up off Miller and hits Sulzer's leg, deflecting into the net for what will be the game-winner. Good job to drive to the middle for a shot here, but no adjustment. This is how PPs are supposed to work.
3rd Period 19:11 - Detroit Goal (EN): Daniel Alfredsson (wrist shot) from Johan Franzen
Alfie gets the empty-netter to salt it away for the Wings. Tyler Myers picks up a rebound that Gustavsson kicks all the way to the point and fires a shot wide of the net. The puck finds its way out of the zone where Franzen is able to out-race Ott and Myers for it, shooting from the blue line at the empty net. Mule hits the post instead, but follows up the shot and picks it up just inside the goalie no-play zone. Franzen tosses it out front to Alfredsson following up the play and Alfie easily deposits it into the net. It's a good decision by Franzen which couples with the lucky bounce to create this goal. I'm going to give Franzen a half-plus for the hustle.
1st Period 11:58 - Cody Hodgson (holding): Tomas Tatar drives through the Buffalo zone, creating a bit of havoc and drawing a penalty. Plus for Tatar. He's a bit uncontrolled, but working hard and that's what counts.
2nd Period 09:39 - Niklas Kronwall (hooking): Kronner lets Ott behind him on a break, hooking him slightly on the hands and giving Ott a penalty shot which Gustavsson saves. Kronwall will get a minus for getting stepped around by the speedster Steve Ott. It's a soft call, but Kronwall should never be in this position in the first place.
3rd Period 00:47 - Kyle Quincey (hooking): Quincey gets his stick up between Ville Leino's legs to slow him down and goes to the box for it. Minus for Quincey. I'm also going to give a half-minus to Helm. He had a turnover which led to this sequence.
3rd Period 06:30 - Christian Ehrhoff (hooking): Gustav Nyquist steals a puck from Ehrhoff behind the Buffalo net and threatens to walk out front with it before Ehrhoff takes him down. Plus for Nyquist on the great forechecking work.
3rd Period 11:13 - Tyler Myers (cross-checking): Abdelkader sets up shop in front of the Buffalo net and gets pasted by a cross check for his troubles. It's a tough part of the job, but that's more on Myers for being too rough than Abdelkader for forcing it. No adjustment.
3rd Period 15:13 - Stephen Weiss (slashing): After a Samuelsson turnover, the Wings are left scrambling to prevent a goal, culminating in a Stephen Weiss tripping call. Weiss will only get a half-minus here as he's put into this situation DIRECTLY by a turnover. Samuelsson will get a full minus.
+1 to Darren Helm: As the Wings' second-line center, he's doing fairly well for himself in the offensive zone and on backchecking. He's got to work on in-zone puck control still, but I thought he had a good game.
+1 to Joakim Andersson: He led the Wings in shots and played well short-handed and at even strength for the Wings. He's been great as a depth center playing against lower lines.
+2 to Henrik Zetterberg: Completely dominant performance by Hank in this one in all aspects of the game against the Sabres' top line.
+1 to Niklas Kronwall and Jonathan Ericsson: Both looked very solid playing heavy minutes on both sides of hte ice for the Wings.
-1 to Brendan Smith: Smith got lucky that Girgensons didn't score on the breakaway caused when he got walked at the blue line. I thought he had a decent game other than that, but this adjustment puts him right in line with how I felt he performed in relation to the rest of the defense.
Samuelsson, Kindl, and Lashoff were probably all closer to minuses thanks to turnovers, but nobody really played poorly in this game.
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