Let’s be very clear before I start this recap, I’m not cheering for the Sabres because, well, they’re the Sabres (haha), but this is a must-lose for the Red Wings. They really screwed up this tank Tuesday and had a chance to come into this game 2nd in the standings (yes, the standings are flipped now). We need to go 0-2-0 vs. Buffalo and Ottawa these next two and it starts tonight. Thanks to that win vs. Pittsburgh, there’s not really a chance of getting the #1 pick, but let’s better our odds. The Wings sit just 2 points away from 3rd and with games still to go vs. Buffalo, Ottawa and Montreal, it starts tonight. Here’s to hoping Casey Mittelstadt pulls an Auston Matthews with a 4-goal debut. Lose, Baby, Lose.
Red Wings legend Scott Wilson out on the O’Reilly line for the Sabres. He did nothing, but worth noting. Mittelstadt with a good 1st NHL shift for the Sabres as well. And boom, what a start. Jack Eichel rips a wrister (say that 5 time fast) past Jimmy Howard as he skated down the wing and blew by, guess who, Jonathan Ericsson. 1-0 Sabres. Career-high 25 goals now for Eichel. Few minutes later, Red Wings 2nd line doing work. Z finds Nyquist in the slot nicely who, guess what, missed the net. Soon after, Frk hooks/holds/interferes with Eichel, first PP of the game. I love this start by the Wings. And Ryan O’Reilly capitalizes after the Sabres were all over the zone. Love this, love this, love this. 2-0 Buffalo. Wow, right after Dylan Larkin buries one home in front of the net, Brett Hull style. Svechnikov gets an assist too, I guess that’s acceptable. 2-1 Sabres. 1st TV timeout.
Nothing going in between, Helm-Larkin-Mantha had a beautiful 3-on-1 chance that Mantha decided to pass one more time instead of hitting a half-open net. 2nd TV timeout. Sabres really the better team so far, most of the play has been in the Red Wings zone. Final TV timeout.
Well, this game is going as you’d expect the Sabres-Red Wings game to go. Not a whole lot going on outside of the 3 early goals. Darren Helm has been very good today as he was the other day vs. Pittsburgh, maybe that’ll help his trade value this summer. Red Wings starting to play better too. And now the Red Wings get a PP. Turnover at the blue line by Joe Hicketts leads to a Scott Wilson breakaway and it was one of the worst chances I’ve ever seen in all alone, then he fell after his shot. Glad we traded him. Right after we get to 5-on-5, Rasmus Ristolainen takes another penalty with 36 seconds left in the period. Now ANOTHER Sabres short-handed breakaway and again Buffalo doesn’t score. This is frustrating. End of the 1st with a carry over PP for the Wings.
Score: 2-1 BUF
So I’m not sure if Blashill is already changing up the lines (wouldn’t be shocked), but Svech and Larkin are out there together again and almost connected on the 2nd goal. I say we keep them together, not just tonight, how about the next 15 years too? Dangerous play in front of the Wings goal. Wilson tried to make something happen and DDK came crashing in from behind, Wilson ran over Howard and in the process face-planted the crossbar. Everyone ok, no penalties either. Penalty right after on Abdelkader however. Helm short-handed on a breakaway, just great. 2-2. Somehow the Sabres don’t score, a shot from the point trickles through Howard and laid on the goal line, no dice though. 1st TV timeout.
Boringness continues as really not much going on again. Pretty even game, but outside of the 4 goals, not a whole lot of great hockey being played. 2nd TV timeout. Sabres PP coming up out of the break. Sabres with a great start on the PP, lots of chances, but Howard has been good again today. The Sabres pick up a penalty for a face-off violation on a questionable call. 4-on-4 for a few seconds then a Red Wings PP. These two really are some of the worst teams in the NHL. And the Red Wings score. Mantha. I really don’t like this team, been all downhill since they announced Holland and Blashill coming back. 3-2 Detroit. Not much else going in the period, that’ll do it for 2. Need a big 3rd from Buffalo.
Score: DET 3-2
Shots: BUF 24-20
Athanasiou scores, 4-2. I give up. Was a great play from Kronwall to an open AA in front of the goal however. Glad the three young guys scored at least. Lots of back-and-forth hockey and bam, Sabres get one back. Evan Rodrigues connects on a wrister in the high slot on a feed from Casey Mittelstadt, his first career point, 4-3 Detroit. Sabres PP out of the 1st TV timeout. Eichel dances around the entire team, leaves the puck in front for an open goal and somehow it didn’t go in. After replay shows it, somehow Norris Trophy D-man Jonathan Ericsson stopped the puck in the blue paint. Just like that, Dekeyser scores on a beautiful backdoor pass from Gustav Nyquist. This team just loves ruining their season, 5-3 Detroit with 10 minutes left in the game. Red Wings PP coming out of the 2nd TV timeout as well.
Red Wings PP was swarming, led by several grade-A Martin Frk shots, but no dice and the game remains 5-3. Penalty expires and the Sabres take another penalty, clearly they aren’t very good at hockey. Eichel spurred a 3-on-1 chance short-handed and Howard made an incredible glove save on him. Final TV timeout.
Red Wings caught Johnson heading to the bench early and Svechnikov buries a wide-open goal for the 2nd of his career, assists to Mantha and Larkin (wait, I love that goal sequence so much with those 3). Good night for the young guys, bad night for the tank. Hopefully this is a sign that next year is going to be much different, but it’s also time we have to start accepting we aren’t getting Dahlin now. Happy thoughts to make this a little bit easier, AA/Hicketts/Mantha/Larkin/Svechnikov combined for 4 G, 4 A tonight, I will take that. Red Wings win 6-3.