Game Recap: How — Red Wings 2 at Sabres 3 (SO)

Red Wings lose out on a second point thanks to opportunistic Sabres.

The Detroit Red Wings traveled to western New York for a Sunday afternoon date with the Buffalo Sabres. No one told the Red Wings it was an afternoon puck drop, though, because they did not start well. It looked like they would make up for it, but they couldn't find that third goal.

The Game

Buffalo got the jump on Detroit in the early going, but the Red Wings would eventually find their legs. The first period would end up scoreless.

The Sabres drew first blood when the end of a flurry of special teams play found Zemgus Girgensons wrapping the puck around the Red Wings' goal. The stuff attempt didn't work, but Brian Flynn jumped in and cleaned up the garbage for a 1-0 Buffalo lead.

That goal seemed to wake the Red Wings up, and the top line dominated a shift in the Buffalo zone. After cycling, cycling, and scoring chances galore, the Red Wings kept the pressure as they were making line changes. Tomas Tatar carried the puck along the boards and along the blue line before tying the score with a shot from the left point short side on Michal Neuvirth.

Detroit would take its first lead of the game in the third. Justin Abdelkader got the puck across the Buffalo line on a 3-on-2. Pavel Datsyuk split the defenders, Abdelkader found him, and the Magician made it count, going far side for a 2-1 lead.

Unfortunately, the Red Wings couldn't prevent the tying goal. The Sabres bed the puck out front from behind the net, Howard saved the initial shot from Chris Stewart, but the rebound went off Brendan Smith in the crease and trickled over the line. Despite trying to do otherwise, the Red Wings and Sabres went to overtime.

The Red Wings failed to score on a power play in overtime. The game went to a shootout. Buffalo won on goals from Tyler Ennis and Girgensons.

The Bullets

  • I don't remember the last time I saw a team miss the net on so many good opportunities. From the slot, from the circles on a one-timer. Michal Neuvirth should probably have more saves from this game, but he doesn't because the Red Wings just plain didn't hit the net on lots of opportunities.

  • The Buffalo broadcast talked about being the team on the second half of a back-to-back (Buffalo in this case) vs. being the team waiting for them on a day's rest (Detroit). You get the fatigue factor, obviously, but the Sabres commentators made an interesting point about how the team that played the previous night already "has its legs under them." It might explain how Buffalo outplayed Detroit at the start of the first period.

  • Of course, when you get blown out like the Sabres did against Pittsburgh last night, it's probably more an issue of wanting to get back out on the ice to erase the memory of a game like that.

  • Detroit had more frequent turnovers in the defensive zone than I remember all season. A combination of too much gap between forwards and defense and just plain bad passes that didn't click tape to tape got in the way of Detroit's chances of taking the game in regulation.

  • The power play was 0-for-4 tonight, including the overtime opportunity where Detroit was apparently content to just let two minutes run off the clock than fire the puck on net.

  • This is what your best players playing like your best players looks like:
    Too bad the loss takes a lot of luster off a dominating night by Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg in scoring chances. These two put on a show.

  • Johan Franzen played 16:19 in total time on ice in his first game coming off a groin injury. He had some moments, but I'm honestly surprised he played that much time considering I didn't notice him for that much time.

  • On the Red Wings' second goal, they were honestly fortunate to score it, as Danny DeKeyser put his stick between a Sabres' player's legs to trip him, and Abdelkader's stick rode up and hit Torrey Mitchell in the face. Neither play was called, and Detroit went down and scored. We're not yet even for penalties impacting goals, but this is a start.

This is the kind of game where I'd complain about letting points get away from them. The usual "trap game" talk. After going 6-2-2 in October against a bunch of good teams, I guess the letdown was going to happen at some point. I'm not going to get up in arms after losing one game against the Sabres if Detroit can take care of business as often as they did in October.

The Red Wings head to Ottawa for a Tuesday matchup with the Senators. Hey, you know what? It's probably best the Red Wings let the Sabres have two points. It'll make it that much more difficult to get either Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel, and if the Red Wings can't beat the Sabres without them, just imagine if the Sabres get either one of them, eh?