Last time around in Buffalo was fun.
After a rough road trip, the Detroit Red Wings turned on the jets right away, peppering the Buffalo Sabres for over 22 shots in the first period. The game ended with a two-point night for Lucas Raymond in a 4-0 win, giving Alex Nedeljkovic his first shutout as a Red Wing. A win today would secure a series sweep for the team.
This time around, the Sabres came a little more prepared.
The Sabres opted to start Aaron Dell again after his brutal outing last time against Detroit. Considering their current injury report, it doesn’t look like they have many other options. Thomas Greiss was placed in the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol this morning, so Nedeljkovic got the nod again.
It was hard to tell whether the team was playing in an ice rink or a library. Considering the snowstorm, the holiday, and the fact that the Sabres are in such dire straits, the lack of attendance at KeyBank Center is no shock. The game started with a series of back-and-forth efforts, with little major success from either side. A massive hit from Moritz Seider happened again. It’s starting to become such a norm that I barely realized it happened when it did!
Raymond set up a spin-o-rama pass for Vladislav Namestnikov, who passed it back to Danny DeKeyser, who...fired a shot right into Dell’s chest. Tyler Bertuzzi dropped a shot back to Pius Suter, who almost landed it into Dell’s chest. The offense has been up to a slow start so far with just wo shots in eight minutes.
The midway point, however, went slightly less-than-planned. Tyler Bertuzzi chose to cover a Sabre that was already covered, leaving Henri Jokiharju open just enough to deflect a goal off Seider. 1-0.
The Red Wings didn’t take it lying down, though; an incredibly slick move from Raymond nearly set Namestnikov up for a highlight reel-worthy goal. A hit from behind from Dylan Cozens brought the Wings to their first power play of the night. Nick Leddy’s clean zone entries always make me wonder what he would’ve been like as a forward. Unfortunately, a glut of turnovers led to yet another ineffective power play for the Wings. They mustered a whole zero shots that time around.
The team just all around seemed sloppy through the first. Big turnovers, poor coverage, and a lack of consistency led to a slow, sluggish period. A high-stick from Joe Veleno put the team on the penalty kill. Unfortunately, that was the first thing that he’s done over the last 10 games that’s been anything close to notable. The good news is, Buffalo’s power play was just as bad as Detroit’s. Nothing exciting happened.
The period ended with a whimper. Buffalo 1, Detroit 0: shots 7-4, respectively.
Hopefully the second and third are full of more fun.
Life, it appears, was injected into the Red Wings before the second. An increase offensive effort saw Detroit even the shots early on, with a few good chances from Adam Erne and Namestnikov. There’s just something discomforting about the energy of this game. Whether it’s the empty stands, awkward silences, or strange miscues, a strange presence appears to haunt the battle against the Sabres.
Bertuzzi seems determined to make an impact after his first period blunder. He’s set up multiple chances and gone out of his way to invite chaos into the Sabres’ ranks. At the near-halfway point of the game, the Red Wings were unable to generate high-danger chances on the net. Sloppy offense and surprisingly solid defense from Buffalo had all but stymied the team’s chances.
The Sabres score, but the goal was quickly overturned by an offsides call. The resounding boos from the audience indicated that, yes, there were indeed fans in the stands.
Jeff Blashill is an elite coaches’ challenger. Generational, even.
Adam Erne hasn’t looked great these last few games, and today is no exception. It seems like he’s either pinned, hit, or botching a pass every time he’s on the ice. Larkin, on the other hand, has looked beyond confident, dangling through the defense and setting up nearly half the team’s offensive efforts. Danny DeKeyser has done his best to ensure that every Grade-A play is downgraded in style.
The second line buzzed near the end of period two, nearly netting a bevy of Bertuzzi chances. Gustav Lindstrom received some high praise for his subtle style of play this season, and for good reason; he hasn’t been glaringly bad with mistakes and has remained quietly steady all season long.
A mishandled defensive play from Staal nearly set up a goal against Nedeljkovic; thankfully, the shot went far off base. Aaron Dell has been playing some outstanding hockey tonight. Fabbri’s setup to Raymond was a split second away from tying the game up.
The good news: the Red Wings added some momentum at the end of the second.
The bad news: the Red Wings are still down.
The neither-here-nor-there news: Adam Erne and Kyke Okposo were both given penalties, leaving the Sabres and Red Wings with some four-on-four hockey to start the third.
If the four-on-four was meant to serve as a reset, it didn’t work. Near the end of the play, Victor Olofsson nearly scored on a breakaway following a rare Larkin miscue. Danny DeKeyser almost caused another scoring chance, but Seider’s well-timed save broke up the Sabres’ efforts. Tage Thompson kinda looks like the guy from Euphoria. The jerk kid.
A HUMONGOUS effort from Suter almost went to the net, but Dell apparently became a new goaltender following Saturday’s rout. Lindstrom did a wonderful job of breaking up Dylan Cozens’ breakaway. He’s really come a long way since his draft day.
It seemed like, no matter how hard the team tried, the goaltending was just on another level. In an unfortunate sequence, Moritz Seider was overpowered and knocked out of position by Alex Tuch, who set up a chaotic sequence, resulting in a Jeff Skinner goal. 2-0 Buffalo.
To make matters worse, Jeff Blashill’s coaches’ challenge this time around came up short, putting the Red Wings on a penalty kill.
Do you like shorthanded goals? If so, you’ll LOVE what happens next. A Seider setup pushed Namestnikov to the offensive end, leading to our first goal of the night for the good guys!
Suter is playing with some serious confidence. He’s been directly responsible for every scoring chance the second line has had. Speaking of scoring chances, Robby Fabbri set up a wonderful chance during a line change that resulted in a Dylan Larkin goal, tying this game up!
The momentum shifted in Detroit’s favor late in the third as the Wings peppered the opposition with pucks. Robby Fabbri has been a quietly efficient player over the last five games both on and off the scoresheet. Alex Tuch, who has been one of the Sabres’ best players, had another breakaway...and botched his attempt. The Red Wings can’t keep letting in breakaways like this, even if it’s a team like the Sabres. A chaotic sequence in the last minute led the Sabres to clear the puck out of desperation. The Red Wings were firing on all cylinders near the end, and the only thing that bailed out Buffalo was Aaron Dell.
It’s overtime time!
Right off the bat, the Wings came out for blood. Raymond had an amazing wraparound chance that nearly resulted in a goal. Momentum kept up until Hronek moved the puck out of the zone to allow a line change. Fabbri-Bertuzzi-Hronek kept up a good passing clinic before firing a snapshot that almost resulted in a goal. Bertuzzi was hit twice with a stick near the end of the following sequence. Fabbri again fired a shot just a little too far off base to score a goal. Larkin stole the puck, fired it through the center, and SCORED THE GAME WINNER, SWEEPING BUFFALO!