I feel bad for everyone who just couldn’t take it anymore after four straight losses and sat this one out. In perhaps their best performance of the season, the Red Wings licked the Buffalo Sabres. It’s hard to call any sort of win against Buffalo a statement win, but this certainly felt like Detroit saying “We’re bloodied, but we’re not out of the hunt yet.” All the exciting details below.
The Wings came out with some pep in their step. Tyler Bertuzzi very nearly scored on the second shift of the game, but he couldn’t get a good handle on a rolling puck and was harassed by defensemen all the way. But with the recent stretch of play it was really nice to see Detroit come out to play at puck drop.
Dylan Larkin hit a goal post about five minutes in with another great opportunity for Detroit. The way Detroit managed to generate those chances early came from getting sticks in the passing lane and hustling on the back check.
Robby Fabbri drew the first penalty of the game by a hook from Colin Miller as Miller took a spill in the slot, leaving Fabbri with a scoring opportunity. Detroit really struggled to get set up in the zone, though, until under a minute left in the man advantage when Detroit cycled the puck around Buffalo’s net, where Filip Zadina held the puck along the half boards, pushed it back down to Bertuzzi. From Bertuzzi to Larkin in the slot, shot, but Sabres goaltender Aaron Dell stopped the attempt. He couldn’t stop Bertuzzi on the rebound, though. 1-0 Red Wings!
Detroit continued to solidly control of the match. Buffalo just seemed weak on the puck and vulnerable to pressure. I say this a bit sympathetically as we’ve seen that sort of hockey often here in Detroit over the past several years. At any rate, the Wings were able to dominate play throughout the first frame.
Cody Eakin high-sticked Sam Gagner late in the period to earn himself a double minor, giving Detroit a four minute power play. It took about two minutes for Detroit to get comfortable, but finally the red team settled in and were able to cycle. Late in the power play Detroit was able to combine off a somewhat similar sequence to their first goal; Bertuzzi gets the puck off Aaron Dell’s left shoulder and he dishes it into the slot. This time there was no rebound, though, as a streaking Fabbri drilled the puck into the wide open right of the net, making it 2-0 Red Wings!
Our 2nd power play goal of the night ⤵️ pic.twitter.com/syolAlJ9w7— Detroit Red Wings (@DetroitRedWings) January 16, 2022
The period closed out pretty quickly thereafter without any theatrics. Yes, Detroit was dominating the lowly Sabres, but still, good teams don’t let games like these slip them by, and for all our sakes, let’s go back to Detroit at least pretending they’re a playoff caliber team.
Score: 2-0 Red Wings
Shots: 22-6 Red Wings
Stand Ups: The Power Play, Larkin, Bertuzzi, Seider
Sit Downs: Hard to complain about a period like this.
38 seconds into the period Larkin got called for tripping Tage Thompson. Buffalo got some shots but nothing particularly hair raising occurred on the kill, so good show. Buffalo kept their momentum afterwards though. It was the best Buffalo looked all night up to this point.
Buffalo got a second power play thanks to a bone-headed too-many-men penalty, served by Givani Smith, so uhh, hopefully you’ve got him on your fantasy team if your league counts PIMs. Detroit escaped again without any damage or dramatics, though, so good work by the PK early on tonight.
Detroit started taking control as the period approached the half way mark, but Detroit took another penalty, this time Ras for tripping. Not the most egregious trip ever committed, but it’s still going to get called. Penalty kill did a good job again, but Detroit needed to stop going to the box so they could just get the momentum back and salt away this game with a few more goals.
Finally, late in the period, the swagger came back. They had a 6-on-5 from a delayed where they chewed up at least a minute, then Raymond ricocheted off the post in the ensuing man advantage. Funnily enough, might’ve been the best looking powerplay of the night.
That brought us about to the close of the period. Detroit eventually grabbed back the initiative and it feels good to control a game like this, but another insurance goal would sure be nice here.
Score: 2-0 Red Wings
Shots: 30-14 Red Wings
Stand Ups: Special Teams, Larkin, Seider
Sit Downs: Still can’t complain.
Right off the period’s opening draw the Wings converted. Larkin won the puck drop, back to Seider, over to DeKeyser in their own zone, up to Namestinikov along the boards, straight on to Larkin entering the zone, then cross-crease to the crashing Raymond for his first in far too many games, 3-1 Red Wings!
The period then progressed as a series of icings by Buffalo. Detroit managed to continue controlling play even if they weren’t putting up many shots at the moment. The game was a nice reminder of what it must have felt like to be the LA Kings a week ago when the Wings came to visit.
A fight nearly came to fruition when Rasmus Asplund pushed Veleno very nearly into the boards from behind. Veleno took exception to this and gave Asplund several cross checks in the back during a scrum along the board. When the Wings regained possession and had a sequence of several quality chance on Dell, the Sabres looked about to drop gloves to stick up for their netminder. The refs got in there before any extra-curriculars could take place.
Nedeljkovic got his toughest test of the night thus far on a Rasmussen penalty as Buffalo kept shuffling the puck behind the net. Okposo and Skinner in particular got some great shots off, but Ned turned them away like a consummate professional. And in the waning seconds of the penalty kill, Bertuzzi got control of the puck and threaded the puck up ice to Rasmussen just as he stepped out of the penalty box. Ras got the puck, skated in, and went five-hole to make it 4-0 Red Wings!
The Wings got another power play on the next shift and the most interesting and mysterious moment of the whole thing was Mickey’s Eminem reference midway through the power play. Great looking power play, too, although no goal.
Buffalo would get another power play but Nedeljkovic sealed up the game to secure the shutout, Red Wings win it 4-0, a huge win after a really lackluster stretch of play!
Score: 4-0 Red Wings
Shots: 39-22 Red Wings
Stand Ups: Larkin, Special Teams, and everybody else. Great stuff.
Sit Downs: None. Best response we’ve seen after a loss this season.
That was just a really solid game all around. Bertuzzi played great, Ned was good and got the shutout, Seider had a really monster game, and Larkin played like your guy in NHL 22 with max stats who can just skate circles around everyone. What a fun one. It’s been way too long since you could get to the end of the first period and think, “yeah, Detroit has this one in the bag.”
They get to dance with Buffalo again on Monday at 1:00 with the backside of this home-and-home. I can’t imagine that game will go as smoothly as this one, but it’s the type of game Detroit needs to win to try hanging on and clawing their way back into a wildcard spot, and even then they’ll need a timely skid from Pittsburgh or Boston. Still, you gotta give yourself a chance, and they did that tonight.