The Red Wings traveled to Buffalo for a Tuesday night tilt against the Buffalo Sabres on the night that Dominik Hasek's #39 went to the rafters of the First Niagara center. Fittingly, a Czech goaltender who scares people when he wanders out of his crease got the victory in a 3-1 Detroit win.
The refs gave the Wings twice as many power play opportunities as the Sabres, which ws deserved but kind of weird in the specific things that they decided to call. Detroit won the special teams battle handily, going 1/4 on the power play and also scoring a shorthanded goal in one of Buffalo's two failed power plays. Shots were 30-26 for Detroit.
Petr Mrazek played well, but wasn't terribly tested. The one goal he allowed was off a multi-layered defensive breakdown so it wasn't really on him. Neuvirth gave a good effort, but there were too many mistakes in front of him.
1st Period 09:42 - Detroit Goal (SH): Darren Helm (wrist shot) from Kyle Quincey
The Wings take the lead on a shorthanded odd-man rush that Darren Helm snipes past Neuvirth to open the scoring. Buffalo rushes up the right wing side to enter the zone on the power play. Varone takes it to the corner with DeKeyser chasing him before he dumps it behind the net. Quincey is there to pick it off and chuck it up the boards around Brian Flynn. Gorges steps up on the boards to pick it off, but has the puck go right by him, leaving only Meszaros at the top of the zone. Helm turns as soon as he sees it get past Gorges and is off to the races in a 2-on-1 with Andersson joining him. With Joker catching up and Helm slowing just enough to let that happen, the two Wings players enter side-by side on either side of the slot. Helm gets it all the way to the hash marks before ripping it top corner into the net. This is a good play to take advantage of a Buffalo mistake. I'm going to give an extra half-plus to Quincey and Helm for their good thinking hustle to make this work.
2nd Period 07:34 - Detroit Goal (PP): Gustav Nyquist (backhand) from Justin Abdelkader and Pavel Datsyuk
Detroit doubles the lead on a power play goal as Nyquist is the second player to come in to sweep up rebounds and he finds it in front past a downed Neuvirth. Kronwall picks off a clearing attempt after a faceoff loss to start the PP and the Wings start the process of getting set up. After a Datsyuk-to-Kronwall-to-Zetterberg-to-Datsyuk passing play at the top of the umbrella gets everything set up, Datsyuk fires it on net with Abdelkader at the net front and Nyquist at the slot. The puck hits Abdelkader and bounces into Neuvirth as he reacts to it, then hits off the glove and eventually back out to the top of the crease where Nyquist finds it after having crashed low. Easy goal and good power play setup. This one was made possible by Kronwall's keep-in off the faceoff. Kronner will earn a half-plus.
2nd Period 13:22 - Buffalo Goal: Mike Weber (wrist shot) from Brian Flynn and Drew Stafford
Buffalo cuts the lead in half as they get a constant late-man rush thanks to the Wings getting cute in the offensive zone and screwing up. Nyquist carries into the zone and drops to Tatar before dragging the defense low with him to give Tots space to cut across the middle while Sheahan heads to the far post. As the defense freezes on Tatar, he tries a pass back to Kronwall cutting in right behind him. Unfortunately, the pass misses and Buffalo heads the other way with it. Tatar hurries back to help Ouellet enough to make the initial zone-entry rush a two-on-two affair, but the Buffalo offense gets there before the Detroit defense. Stafford goes to the top of the circle on the left wing side while Ellis pushes the middle against Tatar. As this ties up both defenders who are back, Stafford goes across the ice to Flynn joining in on the rush. Tatar releases Ellis to get in Flynn's lane as Nyquist and Kronwall skate back, but neither has gotten back quickly enough to cover Weber who takes up the lane that Stafford just occupied before heading to the back post to keep Ouellet outmanned down low. Flynn finds Weber and he is allowed to coast right to the low slot before firing it near-side on Mrazek while the goaltender tries to keep pace on the double-move. Helm ended up with what would have been Sheahan's minus had he not changed behind the play. I'm going to switch that back over to Sheahan and then clear him (for tracking reasons). Sheahan has no chance on this play. Nyquist is pushing back hard and won't keep his minus. Kronwall will keep his minus because the bad pass isn't his fault, but he does take a bit of a wide turn in getting back, which delays him. An instant turn possibly slows Weber. Ouellet keeps his minus for having the goal shot right through him, but Weber was the third guy he had to concentrate on covering in a short period of time. He doesn't deserve extra blame. That blame which is deserved will go to Tatar for the turnover minus. simply can't miss that pass to Kronwall like that.
2nd Period 15:09 - Detroit Goal: Tomas Tatar (wrist shot) from Kyle Quincey and Danny DeKeyser
Detroit regains their two goal lead on a point shot rebound that Tatar slams home to make up for his brutal screwup on the previous goal. Mrazek helps take control on a defensive zone faceoff win for Sheahan that Nyquist starts out of the zone with a pass to Quincey in the middle. Q starts out of the zone before forechecking pressure forces him to go to Sheahan on the right wing side in the neutral zone. Sheahan takes the puck in stride and spins away from Varone at center ice to get it into the Buffalo end. Here, he waits at the half-boards before feeding Nyquist for a good scoring chance that Neuvirth stops. Goose gets his own rebound and circles around to the corner before going back up to DeKeyser at the point, since all five defenders are below the faceoff dots. DK backs across the blue line to the center while the defense lines up to stop him, pulling his stick up for a one-timer that he pulls back down before feeding it off to Quincey coasting down from the point to a spot about five feet above the circle. Q one-times it low into the traffice and has it miraculously get through and bounces off Neuvirth's pad thanks to a Weber screen in front. Tatar is already cutting across the front of the net when the shot kicks off Neuvirth's pads, so he's in perfect position to slide the rebound under the goalie on the backhand. I like this play by the whole line. Quincey will get a half-plus for a good outlet and shot selection. Nyquist will get a plus for the first pass in the defensive zone and then the drive to the net that created the defensive bending which created this goal. Sheahan will get a plus for the excellent way he took the puck in the enutral zone and turned it into a controlled yet speedy zone entry before dishing it off for a quality scoring chance.
1st Period 08:34 - Brendan Smith (cross-checking) against Zac Dalpe: Smith loses a battle for the puck behind his own net and chops down his man to keep him from escaping. Minus for Smith. Easy call to make and a self-created reason to take a call.
1st Period 19:48 - Drew Miller (holding the stick) against Tyler Myers: Detroit goes shorthanded at the very end of the first as Miller skates in on Myers to forecheck and the lumbering D-man lifts his stick up just about to Miller's face level. Miller reaches up to knock the stick down and then continues skating to seal off the boards. The center ice ref sees this all and decides that a holding the stick penalty is appropriate. No adjustment. This is a bad call.
2nd Period 07:27 - Rasmus Ristolainen (high sticking double minor) against Riley Sheahan: The Wings finally get a power play as Sheahan is trying to clear the Wings' zone and ends up taking the butt end of Ristolainen's stick to his face. No adjustment. This is a good call, but Sheahan is simply a victim of Ristolainen's mistake.
2nd Period - Matt Ellis (hooking) against Pavel Datsyuk: Detroit gets a 5-on-3 chance as Ellis puts the lumber in Datsyuk's belt loop trying to get it away from him. Datsyuk will earn a half-plus for the good body position. I'm amazed this got called.
3rd Period 01:14 - Andre Benoit (slashing) against Gustav Nyquist: Goose drives to the front of the net and gets his stick slashed out of his hands to draw a call. Nyquist will get a plus.
3rd Period 08:04 - Drew Stafford and Danny DeKeyser (tripping): DK gets chased out from behind his own net and tripped up, losing the plus he would have earned when he swings his stick out trying to clear the puck and taking out Stafford in return. No adjustment.
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Well howdy there, Weiss-Helm-Pulkkinen line with Smith/Ouellet behind them. That's a mighty fine night you had there, both in creating attempts for and severely limiting attempts against. The most-common opposition for that group at forward was Hodgson, Varone, and Deslauriers, although they spanked everybody. Kronwall and Ericsson being negative was a combination of them having close numbers behind the Datsyuk line and losing the matchupswhile backing the Glendening group.
There weren't really too many faceoffs in this game, but they ran just like Babcock likes to do so on the road. The fourth line took the heavy defensive lifting (especially late against the Sabres with an empty net) while the third pairing got pretty sheltered.
It wasn't always pretty as it looked at times that the Wings were skating at 80-85% against an often-lost Buffalo squad, but Detroit played a safe, system-heavy game and got the win. Quincey and DeKeyser absolutely have been a wonderful pair lately and they continued that in this game. Ouellet and Smith are coming into their own as a group and it's getting to be a lot of fun watching Datsyuk crush people.
Corsi Timeline from Hockeystats.ca