A bit of luck came to the Red Wings at First Niagara Center that put an end to their recent problems. Their late wake up call in the third helped them end 60 minutes of play winning 3-0 over the Buffalo Sabres Friday night.
The Red Wings have a chance to end their two game slide and get jump started on their sluggish offense. For the past five games, Detroit scored seven goals having won just two of them. Since returning home, things have been on a slump and with the short trip to upstate New York, being away for a short time might be what they needed.
They won back on Jan. 2 with a strong hold of the lead against the Sabres and wanted to get back to that very quickly. They get back Tomas Tatar after he skipped out on the game against St. Louis because of an illness. With him back and ready to go, the highly offensive forward can get back to work on the second line with Pavel Datsyuk and Dylan Larkin playing once again.
The Detroit lines produced well at the start of the period but getting the puck into the net where goaltender Robin Lehner stood was another story. He and the Sabres defense kept things clear. The shots racked up four minutes in when the Red Wings got on their first power play of the game but failed to convert. Buffalo had their turn four minutes later battling against Petr Mrazek who has been clutch for the Red Wings when down a man.
The good work helped maintain the offense but the problem still outweighed the success. A second power play came and went for Detroit which opened the door for Buffalo and their confidence that light a fire under them to launch a grouping against them. By the time the period came to end, the Sabres had eight shots in the Red Wings zone while also holding their opponents scoreless through 20 minutes.
The second mirrored the first almost exactly except that both teams didn’t give up any penalties. Their clean play on even strength didn’t help change the score as a combined 24 shots with Detroit shooting 15 didn’t find the back of the net. Opportunities were there for the Red Wings but they couldn’t finish fighting the puck near the crease that had them scratching their heads.
It seemed that nothing could help the Red Wings figure out how to score as they were fighting both the Sabres and the time on the clock. Buffalo handed them the biggest opportunity so far as hit from Marcus Foligno on the hi stick to Larkin put Detroit on a four minute power play. The gift was taken by the Red Wings but not used well as they failed to get on the board despite having so many minutes to get ahead.
It would be the Red Wings rookie to make things happen as he scored on a shot from the far side to score the puck behind Lehner giving him his 15th of the season. Sabres coach Dan Bylsma thought he saw that an off sides against the Red Wings occurred before the goal was scored. Officials went back to check out the incident but couldn’t find any indications of such an off sides.
They held on to their lone goal after three minutes wanting to get out of New York with a victory. They sealed the deal with three minutes left as a shot from the high slot where Larkin took a shot that captain Henrik Zetterberg got hold of to send a backhander into the Sabres net for a 2-0 lead. 2:51 separated them from a much-needed win, but in the final minute of regulation, Lehner was pulled away from the net, which only set things sure for Detroit. An empty net goal from Luke Glendening with 49 seconds left gave them a sigh of relief that they would walk off the ice with a win.
By the time the horn sounded, Mrazek was awarded his third shutout of the season and the eighth of his career stopping 19 shots for his 17th victory. With Detroit back on the winning side of the game, consistency would need to be well oiled before the returned home to host the Anaheim Ducks Saturday night.