After yet another late game collapse in their last game against the New Jersey Devils, the Red Wings look to rebound and earn a point in their 14th consecutive streak, their longest streak since the 20-game streak in 2005-2006. The Red Wings were 12-0-1 against the Sabres in their last 13 games heading into tonight's matchup - would they be able to keep up their dominance of the Sabres, or would they die by the blade?
Well the first period was fairly uneventful. Both teams traded early powerplays that were largely uneventful. The Wings had a couple of good chances on theirs, including a Mike Green shot that rang loudly off the post. Otherwise, the two teams traded low-danger scoring chances until there was one second left in the period. Brendan Smith took a high-sticking penalty and on the ensuing faceoff, Jack Eichel beat Luke Glendening and was able to get a dangerous shot directly off the faceoff on Mrazek. That can't happen.
Shots: 9-6 Buffalo
Standout Players: Dylan Larkin, Riley Sheahan
Tough Period: Brendan Smith, Luke Glendening
The Wings killed off the remaining 1:59 of Brendan Smith's penalty and immediately went on the attack. Just 4:01 into the 2nd, Pavel Datsyuk decided to bust out a little bit of magic as he mesmerized the entire Sabres defense and found a wide open Brad Richards for the goal!
Here's the Brad Richards goal on a beautiful setup from Datsyuk pic.twitter.com/l7b0ldaiMn— Prashanth Iyer (@iyer_prashanth) December 15, 2015
Datsyuk remained dominant, getting a couple more beautiful chances, including one that just missed off the post. In an interview early today he said he was missing something from his game. I'm not really sure what he meant by that but I'm sure as hell he found it.
The Wings continued to keep up the pressure and Tomas Jurco earned himself a penalty shot off of a beautiful stretch pass by Mike Green. That's why you pay the man $6 million a year. Unfortunately, Jurco was not able to bury the chance as he telegraphed his shot.
Jurco penalty shot attempt pic.twitter.com/7dyL8n8M2H— Prashanth Iyer (@iyer_prashanth) December 15, 2015
The rest of the period remained uneventful until Tomas Tatar went to the box with 1:31 remaining in the period. I don't know if it's just me, but Tatar has looked really sloppy defensively the past few games. He's made several ill-timed turnovers, has dogged it on the backcheck, and has taken bad penalties. Sure he's been scoring of late, but this is a trend that can't continue. The Wings escaped the period unscathed but have 29 more seconds to kill on the PK.
Tatar goes to the box for holding
Score: 1-0 Detroit
Shots: 19-18 Detroit
Standout Players: Pavel Datsyuk, Darren Helm, Brad Richards, Mike Green
Tough Period: Tomas Tatar
The Wings killed off the rest of the Tatar penalty thanks to a couple of huge stops by Petr Mrazek. Following the penalty kill, there were a few periods of up and down play, before the Sabres had a phenomenal chance to score. However, Brendan Smith played the body and the stick perfectly to prevent the goal.
Look at Smith get position and then most importantly, tie up the stick! pic.twitter.com/FC79As8Jym— Prashanth Iyer (@iyer_prashanth) December 15, 2015
The Wings finally got a powerplay opportunity of their own and generated some good chances. Unfortunately, they were not able to bury any of their chances. I smell danger. And yupppppp. Sabres score with 4:14 to go to tie the game at 1-1. Ryan O'Reilly with the great deflection after he was denied just 30 seconds earlier by a Datsyuk stickcheck. And yup this is getting bad. Sabres score again with 3:13 to go after a defensive breakdown by Sheahan and Tatar.
Take a look at this play here. Tatar's trying to leak out and Sheahan has no idea where to be. pic.twitter.com/JdoO1IMTi2— Prashanth Iyer (@iyer_prashanth) December 15, 2015
Wings pull the goalie and generate a handful of great opportunities but they just can't get one by Chad Johnson. Wings lose.
Score: 2-1 Buffalo
Shots: 32-30 Detroit
Standout Players: Pavel Datsyuk, Darren Helm, Brad Richards
Tough Period: Riley Sheahan, Tomas Tatar
Player of the Game: Pavel Datsyuk
- This is the 9th blown 3rd period lead in 31 games for the Red Wings. I don't have an explanation. The Wings never sat back, but two defensive miscues and we're talking about a 2-1 loss to the Sabres
- Give credit to the Sabres. They brought it to the Wings in the 3rd period and actually won the 5v5 shot attempts battle 41-38. Detroit's shot attempt numbers are starting to drop off over the last five games which is a bit concerning.
- Petr Mrazek once again played a great game and just didn't get any goal support. The Wings are scoring 2.25 goals/60 minutes for Mrazek, 8th worst in the NHL. He needs some help.
- Datsyuk played probably his best game of the season, he just didn't get the breaks. He probably had 3 or 4 glorious chances that he would normally convert. He seems to be back.
- Brendan Smith made several solid plays in this game and seemed more comfortable. The pairing of Marchenko-Smith is quickly becoming one of Detroit's better pairings.