Red Wings can’t Rattle Sabres, lose 5-1 in Detroit

It takes a special team to lose 5-1 but still feel the game “winnable.”

Howard made his return in net tonight against Buffalo, but this sequel was one of those that nobody wants to go watch, because the writers just recycled the plot of the last one. The Wings had a really great second period, but this one was a crap sandwich with Buffalo dominating the beginning and end of the game. Read about all the condiments below.

First Period

The Sabres opened scoring two-and-a-half minutes in off an end-to-end rush where Curtis Lazar bowled over Hronek and dished the puck to Evan Rodriguez on the one-timer to rifle it past Howard, 1-0 Sabres. Of course, the Red Wings like to compound their misery, so Mike Green slashed Jack Eichel 3:25 into the period. Evan Rodriguez got the puck in the right circle and pulled out Lashoff like a fish into a boat. Lash tried sliding to block the shot, but Rodriguez lifted the puck over Lashoff , got his own rebound, and lifted it past Howard to make it 2-0 Sabres after only five minutes.

The Wings did manage to get their act together and began to control play. Bogosian boarded Larkin but everyone pretty much gave him a pass because it was clear he felt bad and Larkin didn’t seem particularly hurt. Still, can’t do that, so the Wings headed to the man advantage in an attempt to pull themselves within one. Unfortunately, Zadina made a sloppy pass under pressure back to Fabbri at the blue line, who dove to keep the puck in, but alas, Latvian wonder Zemgus Girgensons scooped up the puck and went in all alone on Howard, deked, and wristed the puck past Howard. 3-0 Sabres.

On the bright side, Rush played out the broadcast crew for the next commercial break (the 2112 Overture, in case you were wondering.) But if you’re disappointed it took them this long to play Rush then you and I probably agree on many things.

Madison Bowey took a delay-of-game penalty, which Buffalo used to pepper Howard, but maybe it was good in the end because Howard stopped them all and maybe he found a rhythm. Good thing, too, because Flip got called for “tripping” six seconds before the end of the period, so Howard will get to start the next period under pressure unless the penalty kill can do something special and get a shorty to start the next one.

Score: 3-0 Sabres
Shots: 12-6 Sabres
Stand Outs: Larkin, Bertuzzi, Hronek. Ctrl+c, ctrl+v all day, every day with the stand outs section.

Second Period

The Wings killed it off without consequence! Flip even got a great scoring chance coming out of the box and went in all alone on Ullmark, but he didn’t have anyone to pass to so the Wings still trailed by three.

Justin Abdelkader of all people drew a penalty, a cross check from Brandon Montour, to put the Wings on the man-advantage. But nope, no goal. The Wings got maybe one shot, with a lot of cycling and not much crashing.

Aside from the previous penalty, I hadn’t really noticed the fourth line tonight, but Ehn, Smith, and Abdelkader had one of Detroit’s best shifts by creating pressure, taking the body, and being difficult to play against. Eventually Filppula shifted in and circled the net with puck while the net was wide open and it kind of made me pull out my hair, which I don’t have the most left in my head to pull out, so when the last one finally falls out I am going to blame Filppula. Great shift overall, though, but they really ought to have come away with a goal on that one.

The shift set the tempo, though; the Red Wings kept putting the puck deep and went to work digging out pucks. Finally, Larkin and Fabbri break a puck free from the boards. A pass over to Bowey, and a nice 60-foot wrister into the far corner as Ullmark overplayed his near-side brings the Red Wings within 2! From Madison Bowey of all players!

Within a few minutes the Red Wings looked like the pulled with 1 by running a freaking train into Ullmark’s net, but review showed us that the puck never quite crossed the crease, but Brandon Montour pushed the puck with his hand in the crease to create an instant delay-of-game penalty, so the Red Wings would get an opportunity to still score that goal as the Sabres had to defend while down a player. But the power play was absolutely snake-bitten, so no score.

The ice started to seriously tilt in Detroit’s favor. The lines kept crashing like waves as Givani Smith in particular made his presence felt. Detroit held Buffalo to only three shots in the period. They should have found at least one more goal, if not two, but it’s a heck of a lot better than the first period. I was ready to write them off after 20, but after 40 the game felt very winnable despite the 2-goal hole.

Score: 3-1 Sabres
Shots: 17-15 Red Wings
Stand Outs: Givani Smith, Christoffer Ehn, Madison Bowey

Third Period

BUT SCREW ALL THAT! Less than three minutes into the period Buffalo scored another goal , this time via Zach Bogosian, by simply waltzing in on Howard while Abdelkader struggled to figure out who he should cover. 4-1 Sabres.

Green took his second penalty of the game, and his second against Jack Eichel. Rasmus Ristolainen parked in front of Howard and  waited for Buffalo to sail a puck in on net from up high. Nemeth tried to clear him out of the crease, but he was basically the little engine that could out there, except he couldn’t actually move Ristolainen too much. Ristolainen just pushed the puck through Howard’s five-hole to make it 5-1 Sabres.

Glendening took a bad crash into the boards half way through the period, but he seemed fine. He was laughing about it on the bench, anyway. It kind of surprises me sometimes how much abuse that guy can take. He even took a cross-check to the back for his troubles.

Honestly, though, the heart was out of the game for the Red Wings by this point. There wasn’t much else to say about the period; both teams more-or-less skated it out

Score: 5-1 Sabres
Shots: 27-22 Sabres
Stand Outs: Everybody’s a Loser!

The Wings fly out east to take on the Isles this Tuesday at 7:00 PM, so they will get a chance to redeem themselves  in short order against a good New York team. I’m going to force myself to have a cathartic moment by listening to 2112 in its entirety now, because that rock opera is downright optimistic compared to what I just watched.