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Sabres Rattle Wings: Detroit Loses 4-3

NHL: Buffalo Sabres at Detroit Red Wings Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports


I went to see Rogue One today (don’t worry, no spoilers, I’m not a monster.)

If you’ve been living under a rock, the film tells the story of a group of rebels attempting to steal the plans for the Death Star. Their plan is described as a mission that has nearly no chance of success. So, basically a Detroit Red Wings power play.

It was a very strange to leave the theater after having greatly enjoyed the movie to learn that Carrie Fisher had died. I know I’m the millionth person to say this, but 2016 just has to end already.

Tonight, the Red Wings are celebrating the 1996-97 Stanley Cup winning team. Ken and Mick take the crowd on a trip down memory lane. After a stirring video package ending with McCarty’s goal and the raising of the cup, the players were introduced to a raucous welcome. Congrats to the 96-97 team, and here’s hoping this year’s installment gives us something to cheer about tonight.

First Period

While I’m fairly certain that Sabres forward Ryan O’Reilly didn’t want a hippopotamus for Christmas, I’m even more certain he didn’t want an emergency appendectomy.

Mrazek makes the first good save of the game nearly five minutes into the game, after Rasmus Ristolainen was allowed to walk in and take a shot from the faceoff dot.

Lehner was called upon to make two solid saves on Thomas Vanek in close. Nyquist threaded a good pass that Vanek tried to tip in. He then had a juicy rebound that he couldn’t lift over Lehner’s pad.

Ericsson then made a really bad play to allow Evander Kane to first get the puck, then beat him behind the net for a wraparound. Mrazek made the first save, but Kane was allowed to poke at it again, and he put it by Mrazek to give the Sabres a 1-0 lead 8 minutes in.

Nielsen, Vanek, and Nyquist have a nice shift, keeping the puck in and getting some pressure.

Brendan Smith and Evander Kane get better acquainted.

After a large stretch of not much happening, the Sabres go to the game’s first power play off a Frans Nielsen penalty.....and it leads to the game’s first power play goal. Sam Reinhart tips a Ristolainen point shot past Mrazek.

Dylan Larkin made a tremendous move to get in behind Lehner and give himself a wide-open goal, but the puck somehow didn’t go in. The replay showed that Jake McCabe saved the goal. Vanek intercepted a clear at the blue line to set up the Larkin chance.

At the end of the period, Steve Ott attempted to provide intangibles. It didn’t seem to have any lasting effect, and we finish the period down 2-0.

Second Period

I spent the first intermission working on a plan for a ragtag group of rebels to kidnap Lidstrom and force him to play defense the rest of the season.

Life goal: Find someone who talks about you the way Mickey Redmond talks about Steve Ott.

Anthony Mantha and Marcus Foligno drop the gloves. I’d rather have Mantha trying to give his team a boost by scoring. Maybe if Ott would actually fight someone instead of starting stuff then running away...

Brendan Smith took a penalty shortly after. I couldn’t tell what happened because my picture was too small because of the FSD interview picture-in-picture-protocol.

Fortunately the Wings kill the penalty, then Kulikov takes a penalty, so Detroit goes to their first power play of the evening. Let’s hope it doesn’t look like it has for, well, a long time.

Lehner keeps a Vanek wraparound out right off the faceoff.

Just as I was about to ask why Luke Glendening was on the power play, he took a holding penalty on the offensive faceoff, so we go to 4 on 4.

Coming out of the 4 on 4, Tatar had a really bad shift where he gave the puck away twice.

We’re only losing by two goals, but with the way the team is playing, it feels like ten.

Like I was saying, we are really close to tying this game, as Henrik Zetterberg somehow scores from behind the goal line. He banked it off the back of Lehner’s head after strong forechecking from Mantha and Ott. 2-1 Buffalo

Then about twenty seconds later, Jack Eichel beat Mrazek over the shoulder from in close. 3-1 Buffalo.

As I felt the numbness start to set in again, Drew Miller banged in a loose puck in front of Lehner to make it 3-2. Larkin went on his patented tour of the offensive zone and rifled a puck at the net that hit either Sheahan or Miller or both. The puck died right next to Miller and he slammed it in.

Steve Ott is now playing on the top line with Mantha and Zetterberg because the Blashill way is that you have one good shift and go on the top line replacing the guy who had a hat trick a couple games ago. Sounds about right.

Steve Ott has scored 5 goals in his last 177 games (178 if he doesn’t score tonight). Tomas Tatar scored three goals in one game just over a week ago.

Brendan Smith and Evander Kane fight. I’ll take Kane off the ice for five minutes in exchange for Smith. Looks like the plan is for Smith’s fight to inspire top-liner Steve Ott to score a hat trick.

The period ends 3-2 Buffalo, and the numbness is momentarily relieved. Let’s hope for a strong finish.

Third Period

A strong shift by the AA-Larkin-Glendening line nearly led to a goal several times before Buffalo was forced to ice it. There easily could have been multiple penalties called, but with Detroit’s recent power play, the officials likely did the Wings a favor.

Brendan Smith returns to the ice and starts looking for another person named after a heavyweight champion of the world to fight.

Detroit goes to another power play after Nyquist looked to miss a wide open net. On the replay, you could see that the Sabres defender got enough of his stick to keep him from putting it in.

Buy a lottery ticket because tonight’s your lucky night. The Red Wings scored on the power play! Thomas Vanek intercepted a clear and turned and fired it by Lehner. Sheahan was in front of the goal, but the puck didn’t deflect off him, so he is still looking for his first goal. 3-3 game

Well, shit.

Kane finds a wide open lane created when Glendening didn’t get back quickly enough and Kane ripped it pas Mrazek. Petr has not had a game to remember. 4-3 Buffalo.

It looked like Frans Nielsen had tied the game, but the whistle had blown after Lehner took a stick in the throat from his own player. I can see why the referee blew the play dead, but it should have been a holding call on Bogosian who hauled down Nielsen while accidentally spearing his own goalie.

Here’s a fun stat:

Rasmus Ristolainen had a shot from the right circle that looked like it was going to be another goal based on Mrazek’s play tonight, but the puck missed the net.

Brendan Smith nearly tied the game when a Kronwall point shot fell to his feet right in front of the goal. Mickey Redmond took a break from talking about his birthday and the opening of the Joe Louis Arena to mention it in passing.

Athanasiou made a horrible pass from next to his own net right into traffic in front. Luckily, the puck bounced away, leading to a Red Wings rush up ice. Athanasiou nearly got around his man to get in alone with Lehner, but couldn’t finish the move.

Then a goal mouth scramble with Mrazek on the bench led to two glorious chances from Dylan Larkin. The first one was blocked by Reinhart, and Lehner just got a glove on the second one.

The final buzzer blows and it’s another loss 4-3. Tonight started with an inspiring trip down memory lane and ended with another dose of harsh reality.