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Despite late-game comeback, Red Wings fall to Sabres 5-4 (SO)

Power play and goaltending weren’t the sharpest.

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

The Red Wings came into Wednesday night on the heels of a loss at the hands of a powerful Toronto team that took advantage of a softened defense and goaltending. Still, it felt like the Wings put up a solid fight against the Leafs. There was reason to believe they could handle the Sabres — a team with top-heavy offense.

Goaltending, along with special teams would doom the Red Wings early in the game, and then again in the later stages of regulation. All that being said, they still managed to salvage a point thanks to depth.

1st Period

The game certainly didn’t start slow. Overall, the Wings seemed to have the Sabres under control. It took just over a minute for Jonatan Berggren to find himself in a place where he could showcase his shot. His second goal of the season:

The Red Wings picked up a chance on the PP shortly after Berggren’s goal and everything seemed to be going their way. That’s when things started to tumble away and I think it’s safe to say goaltending played a large part of it. The Wings would ultimately let up two unanswered goals, one of them on the man advantage. There’s an argument for the team playing a little sloppy, but both were very soft goals for Alex Nedeljkovic. Especially this one:

Detroit didn’t play bad the rest of the period. In fact, I thought they outplayed Buffalo pretty handedly. I think this game would be ending at 1-0 after 20 had it not been for a couple of farts in net.

  • We are on “find a place to live” watch for Jonatan Berggren.
  • I’ll admit, I have been really unimpressed with Tyler Bertuzzi.
  • Did I mention goaltending? Good god.
  • Oskar Sundqvist plays hockey like he’s a dump truck. I respect that.

2nd Period

The nightmare for Detroit in the middle 20. You had a sense that they might have went into the locker room with some momentum, but the Sabres were the ones with more jump in their step. Tyler Bertuzzi continued to play some really sloppy hockey that would ultimately put Buffalo in a place to build on their lead.

It took just over two minutes for the Red Wings to take a penalty and the Sabres to score again. It started when Moritz Seider blocked a shot and went down in pain — Seider laid there for quite some time before the play was blown dead. Unfortunately for the Wings, the play was blown dead a fraction of a second after Jeff Skinner tucked a PP goal behind Nedeljkovic.

Detroit would get a couple of good looks and scoring chances but Craig Anderson, 20 years going strong in the NHL, was standing in the way:

This is exactly how I imagined a 41-year-old goaltender would perform against these Red Wings. Of course.

  • The only good thing that happened in this period was Mortiz Seider coming back after going down the tunnel.
  • I’ve mentioned Bertuzzi not playing well, but Larkin hasn’t been at his best in this game.

3rd Period

All help felt lost, right? WRONG.

In a stunning turn of events, the Red Wings would score three unanswered goals to bring the game to four goals a piece. The period started with Buffalo getting a chance on the PP. After Detroit successfully killed off the penalty, David Perron snuck one behind Craig Anderson to start the rally:

Perron’s goal would be a catalyst for the Red Wings (unfortunately not for the power play). After the second goal, the clouds parted and the sun started to shine on LCA. Andrew Copp and Oskar Sundqvist would connect on back-to-back goals within in a couple of minutes to restore hope. Sundqvist’s second goal was particularly impressive because it came directly from a face-off win:

Buffalo tried to hand this game to Detroit. In the closing minutes of regulation, the Sabres took two penalties to put them down two men. With a five-on-three advantage, the Wings could surely, finally, maybe (pretty please with sugar on top) score a goal, right?

Wrong.

Overtime was uneventful for both teams, especially Detroit. It appeared the team didn’t have any intention of being aggressive with the puck — which was specifically baffling to me. I remember seeing Rasmussen-Copp-Chiarot out there in OT and thinking to myself “what the hell is going on?” Needless to say, there was very little offense.

The game would eventually move to a shootout. Detroit couldn’t manage to score one goal between Lucas Raymond, Dylan Larkin and David Perron. When Buffalo was given a chance to end the game, it was Rasmus Dahlin who did the deed.

Final: 5-4, Sabres (SO)

You would think that salvaging a point out of this mess of a game would leave you feeling relieved. It’s tough for me because Detroit went 0/7 on the powerplay and let up a SHG. Even for a impotent PP unit, that’s pretty darn pitiful.

It also doesn’t help that Detroit’s goaltending bubble is starting to burst. Nedeljkovic did bounce back a bit after a really awful start, but it’s kinda like the last game against Toronto: You probably win that game with a different goalie.

The Red Wings are back in action Saturday night. They will host the Vegas Golden Knights at Little Caesars Arena. 7pm puck drop.