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Luke Lights Up the Sabres: Red Wings Win 3-1

The game started out looking like as much of a snoozer as the first meeting in Buffalo. Glendening broke the ice late in the second, and Tatar and Larkin added tallies in the third to ensure a Red Wings victory at home.

NHL: Buffalo Sabres at Detroit Red Wings Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Wow! What a game the Wings played on Wednesday! After the Kid Line got a trio of points each and all of the fracas near the end of the third, Detroit is looking to continue the excitement of two nights ago against... the Buffalo Sabres? Aw, nuts. Well, let’s hope they didn’t use up all their goals against the Flames, because it only took one to win it the last time these two teams saw each other.

First Period:

Anthony Mantha was given the Detroit Sports Media Rookie of the Year Award before the game tonight. Good thing he wasn’t suspended or that might’ve been a little awkward.

With Blashill going 11/7 tonight, Larkin and Athanasiou were already seeing double-shifting early on to fill the hole in the forward group. Which yay, because more Kid ice time is good ice time, but also boo, because that seventh defenseman could have been Joe Hicketts if they were expecting to play whichever guy got the call-up. Ugh.

Pretty incredible sequence by Dylan Larkin as he was able to get the puck up the boards behind two Sabres and pull ahead to get a shot on Robin Lehner. While Larkin only rang the iron, he did draw a slashing call on Nathan Beaulieu.

Still on the power play, Niklas Kronwall got the puck up to a streaking Gustav Nyquist at the blue line between two Buffalo defenders for a chance straight in on goal, but the Goose remained unloosed as he sent the puck slightly high and wide. I immediately pulled a pectoral muscle in memory of Mikael Samuelsson and will be out for the next six months.

Sabres headed to the power play as Trevor Daley was called for hooking. I’m not trying to influence the universe on this or anything, but Buffalo had already given up six short-handed goals this season and y’know, Larkin plays on the penalty kill for the Red Wings, so...

Well apparently I haven’t reached omnipotent status because the Wings didn’t score on Buffalo’s power play. But neither did Buffalo, so I guess I can live with it.

Just under three to play, still tied 0-0. I’m not liking this score being reminiscent of the last time these two teams met. Plus at this point on Wednesday, we’d already seen five goals between the Wings and Flames.

Shots: 8-6 Red Wings
Score: 0-0 tie

Second Period:

Larkin and Andreas Athanasiou nearly had a two-on-one in the opening minute of the second, but the puck was just behind AA and killed the chance. It was good to see the kids extending their energy and drive from the first, because as FSD kept pointing out, Buffalo tries to lull their opponents to sleep.

Wings head back to the power play as Jordan Nolan boarded Nick Jensen in the Detroit end. If you remember, Nolan got two games a few seasons ago for boarding Darren Helm that gave us this amusing sequence:

Ah, love conquers all, doesn’t it? Also, hello there Andrej Nestrasil!

Twenty-odd seconds of a five-on-three as Evander Kane shoved Kronwall into the boards and got a roughing penalty for it. Pretty rude to knock down an old man like that, dude.

A whole lot of passing led to a whole lot of nothing and then a clear to Nolan as he was coming out of the box. Fortunately, Nolan is Nolan, he of 20 career NHL goals in his six-plus seasons, and Jimmy Howard is Jimmy Howard, he of the house of the honey badger, who gives zero shits and gives up no goals.

A squeaker through the crease to the side of Lehner in the dying seconds of the man advantage. Still nothing doing thus far.

Henrik Zetterberg nearly had a chance right in front of the Buffalo goal but couldn’t corral the puck from his skates. On the next zone entry, Nyquist threw the puck over to Luke Glendening, who tried sending it back to the Goose, but he couldn’t get the shot off.

Wings to the power play once more as Seth Griffith took a holding penalty. The absence of Martin Frk on the man advantage had definitely been noted, as his unit no longer had their known set-up guy to either send pucks to or distract enough to get another player open. 0-for-4 on the PP now, and at this point I suspected the Sabres might start getting some calls in their favor to balance things out.

Speaking of the power plays, the three the Wings got this period definitely helped pad their shot total, but they’d more than doubled up the Sabres shots now. It just felt like something had to give soon with Lehner.

Athanasiou was able to draw the Buffalo goaltender to his right with Tomas Tatar screening in front, missed with his shot, and then Larkin flung the puck from the other side before Lehner could get set in his crease, and still the puck ended up going out and behind the goalie. Griffith got in on Howard and tried to out-wait him, but Howard stayed with him the whole time and easily gloved Griffith’s shot.

As time was ticking down in the middle frame, I was afraid we were actually going to see a repeat of the last game between these teams. But as that last minute of play was announced, the Wings dug the puck out from behind the Buffalo net, got it to the front, and Glendening finally broke the scoreless tie! On the backhand, naturally.

Helm stuck out his booty and caught Jack Eichel in the hip as he was going past, resulting in a trip somehow?? I don’t know how that works, but I did predict some favorable Sabre calls coming up.

Nearly a tie game again with seconds left as Kane had a prime chance with a half-open net on the ensuing power play. Ken and Mickey had a good chuckle about how Kane couldn’t even break his stick in frustration after he was foiled by Howard.

Shots: 21-10 Red Wings
Score: 1-0 Detroit

Third Period:

The Red Wings started the final frame on the penalty kill, and just after it ended Nielsen flung the puck in on Lehner from the Red Wings’ blue line that looked like it juuust barely went wide of the post.

Mantha to Nyquist on a two-on-one that Lehner deflected wide of the net. Poor Goose.

Penalty to Buffalo again as Nolan headed to the box for holding Athanasiou. I’m surprised he didn’t get electrocuted from trying to contain #GreecedLightning.

Zemgus Girgensons had a short-handed breakaway with Frans Nielsen and Mike Green on his heels. Nielsen was able to knock the puck off Girgensons’ stick, potentially saving a tying goal from being scored. Whew.

Unfortunately that very thing happened just minutes later as Ryan O’Reilly got to a loose puck and slammed it into the cage. Howard was pretty far out to block the initial shot, but the rebound angled off the left skate of Okposo and into empty ice where O’Reilly could find it. The Red Wings challenged for goaltender interference as replays appeared to show Okposo’s right skate pull the top of Howard’s left pad, potentially preventing him from pushing off with that leg to get over and set for the O’Reilly shot. Toronto did not agree, and the goal stood.

Helm had a great feed over to Glendening on a quick developing two-on-one, but the less-bearded Luke was on his forehand and couldn’t put the biscuit in the basket. Juuust high on a puck that rolled up onto its edge.

And just like that it’s a 2-1 game! Tatar walked the blue line with a clear shooting lane for an age for a nice wrister that ricocheted up off Lehner’s pad and barely under the bar. Earlier in the game that would have been deflected up and away out of harm, I guarantee it. Anyway, more Tatar goals, the merrier. I love that lil tater tot.

Kronwall sent a pass to Jensen at the Wings blue line and it got Jensen nailed to the ice. Let’s avoid getting our teammates crushed with suicide passes, yeah? Fortunately Jensen was okay, because we’ve all seen a pass like that that ends in injury.

Nyquist had yet another good chance as he got the puck off the boards in the corner and brought it up to the circle to Lehner’s left before getting a shot off, but yet again was unable to get the puck in the net. Man, I’ve already said, “Poor Goose” in this recap. How much more can he take before he picks up the puck and throws it in the net, gets in Lehner’s face, and stares at him menacingly until he makes the goalie cry?

The answer is never because I just don’t believe that the Goose is able to muster such meanness in his gaze. He’s too Swedish for that.

Ticking down into the last five minutes was getting too close for comfort with just a one-goal lead. Flashbacks to the last few seasons had me shaking in my... well I actually was barefoot so I didn’t even have socks on to tremble in fear. But those flashbacks man, all those late blown leads... shudder

Luckily these beautiful boys had my back as Ouellet sent a puck on net, allowing a rebound to come out to an approaching Larkin. The Boy Wonder and ultimate nerd snapped the puck over a sprawling Lehner. There’s your lesson for tonight, my dear readers: always put the puck on net.

Thankfully that was all the goals the Red Wings needed, and that’s a wrap from Detroit tonight.

Shots: 33-20 Red Wings
Score: 3-1 Detroit

Final Thoughts:

  • Nyquist was definitely involved early and often in this game. It was good to see the Goose get sorta-kinda loose even though he didn’t pot one tonight.
  • Apparently the Helm “penalty” was actually Glendening tripping Eichel. Helm was innocent and wrongfully convicted!
  • “They’re not really fast, they’re deliberate,” is a rather nice way to say that the Sabres are boring and dumb, courtesy of FSD.
  • Sara wasn’t wrong here, and I won’t complain too much since it was Glendening’s goal that finally broke the scoreless tie to kick off some proper action. And I guess someone besides the Kid Line and Jimmy Howard deserve a little bit of the spotlight, right?
  • More like Buffalose lol