The Detroit Red Wings welcomed the Buffalo Sabres to the Joe for the first matchup of the season between the two Atlantic division foes. After dropping two overtime games in the last week to teams chasing them in the standings, the Wings were looking to stop their run of blowing late-game leads and take two points outright. Neither of those things happened, though they did come away with the victory. Here's how it all went down.
Tomas Tatar celebrated his 25th birthday today, and decided to share the birthday love with his teammates by scoring a goal only 1:34 into the hockey game after three straight icings in the first minute. Mickey thinks it may have been his first ever backhanded goal, so basically Tatar is the anti-Luke Glendening. Zetterberg got cross-checked in his lower back by Evander Kane and then nailed by Zach Bogosian on the same shift and I think we were all holding our breath a little bit due to Z's history of back issues. The Wings got hemmed in their own zone for a long while when Buffalo looked like they were on a power play, and surprisingly it was the Datsyuk line that was being victimized.
So Justin Abdelkader hadn't scored in a while, eh? Here some of us were thinking he could be put back on Datsyuk's wing to be his backboard again, but it turns out Abby's a little more versatile than we thought. He deflected in a Jonathan Ericsson slapshot after it hit him in the chest, and suddenly the Wings have the most dangerous lead in hockey. Mrazek made some impressive stops with about five minutes left when Buffalo started buzzing around his net again. After some sloppy passing in both zones, the Sabres got a 2-on-1 with Kronwall back, and a pretty wrister by Kane cut the lead in half.
Score: 2-1 Red Wings
Shots: 16-13 Sabres
Standout Players: Tatar, Nyquist, Sheahan
Tough Period: Zetterberg
After zero power plays in the first period, the Wings took a Too Many Men penalty because of course they did. Then they lucked out when Buffalo evened it up only eleven seconds later, though Darren Helm doesn't feel so lucky when his wrist was the one slashed for the call. Both penalties ended without consequence and the teams returned to full strength. Then we saw a line of Miller-Glendening-Abdelkader together (two Spartans and a Wolverine, yes, thank you Mick) and what do you know, Miller finally got his first goal of the season! After frustratingly close misses the last few games, it's nice to see the Silver Fox get on the board.
Hey Fox Sports Detroit, quit using that dumb camera angle when you're showing a power play. No one likes it. What we do like is seeing the Wings kill off Buffalo power plays, especially since they came into this game clicking along at an 8th-best 21.3%.
Is Darren Helm the only player in the NHL that could stickhandle himself into a referee? I feel like that takes a special amount of ham-handedness. Then we saw a 3-on-1 with Tatar, Sheahan, and Nyquist as your three Wings, and you'd think a goal comes out of that kind of rush, but no. Say, speaking of Buffalo power plays, the Sabres got a goal only five seconds into a PP after Kane tried to fight Zetterberg (and slashed his ankle, and tripped him, and continued throwing punches...). I don't mind Smith taking the extra minor, because you have to protect your captain, but that's a shitty play by Kane and the second time he went after Z and his team got rewarded for it. Not to mention Smith hardly did anything to warrant a penalty.
More antics with a minute left in the period. I wasn't expecting to recap this kind of stuff tonight, but it seems that Dan Bylsma teams are goony by nature. The Sabres ended up with another man advantage as the period expired because Abdelkader hooked Josh Gorges and then fought him. That gave Abby the Gordie Howe Hat Trick on the night.
Score: 3-2 Red Wings
Shots: 33-25 Red Wings
Standout Players: Helm, Pulkkinen
Tough Period: Zetterberg
Instead of blowing a third-period lead late, the Wings blew it early, giving up the tying goal less than a minute in. Kane got his second of the game on the second undeserved power play for the Sabres after they started pointless shit after whistles. Then Buffalo took their first lead when Mrazek was completely screened on a Bogosian shot. The Wings kept pressing for the tying goal, and finally got a chance to do so on their first power play of the game with 7:09 to go. The crowd was chanting their loudest to cheer on their team just as the $30-million-dollar man Abdelkader scored his second of the game to do just that.
The Wings did what they've been doing late in games and pressed for another goal, though this time it wasn't with a lead. I was just as nervous with the score tied than if the Wings were looking for the insurance marker. I think I hit my breaking point when Budd Lynch's dulcet tones graced our ears with a minute left. No goals. Time for OT again. Excuse me, I need a paper bag to breathe into.
Score: 4-4 tie
Shots: 45-30 Red Wings
Standout Players: Mrazek, Abdelkader
Tough Period: Ericsson
I hate OT, whether it be regular season or playoffs. It gives me heart palpitations. Nyquist took a tripping call in OT and I immediately wanted to throw my #14 jersey at the television. The Sabres looked dangerous but the Wings held them off, and then Kane hit the goalpost in OT as the Wings killed off the penalty. Time for a shootout, because why the hell not?
Know what I hate worse than OT? Shootouts! I prefer to watch the from behind my own hands, but I needed them for typing. Here's what happened in each shootout round:
Nyquist tried his patented move and was stopped. O'Reilly was turned away by Mrazek.
Datsyuk deked to his forehand and was also stopped. Moulson was stoned.
Richards scored his first goal in a Red Wings uniform (though it won't count as such on his season stats). Eichel stopped.
RED WINGS WIN.
- Your POTG is Abdelkader. Two goals, an assist, and a fight for the first star of the game.
- "Darren Helm" and "wrist slash" are two things that together incite a cold, sickening dread in my heart. So are "Henrik Zetterberg" and "cross-checked in the back". Both of those things happened at the stick of Evander Kane tonight.
- Henrik Zetterberg was targeted an alarming amount. I was pissed when it happened and I'm pissed now.
- The refs forgot what constitutes a penalty but were all too happy to give the Wings the extra in a scrum where the worst aggressor was from Buffalo. The Wings didn't find themselves with a single power play in this game until less than eight minutes left in the third. I'm sick of stuff like this happening.
- The Red Wings got 46 shots on goal, which I believe is by far the most they've gotten in a game this year. They also gave up 32, but 46!!
- Kronwall had two big hits in the third. Not quite the level of the one he laid on Letestu last week, but good to see from him.
- I yelled a little too loudly when the Wings tied it in the third and then when Richards scored in the shootout. Oops.