All good things come to an end and for the Red Wings it arrived with a sour feeling. Their lack of increasing the lead against the Buffalo Sabres had them down late in the third to lose 2-1 in regulation at the Joe Louis Arena Monday night. The Sabres ended Detroit’s points streak at 13 games in 60 minutes gaining their second straight win.
Detroit’s points streak hoped to continue but the team’s work to win would require much from their offense in order to secure their climb up in the Atlantic Division. Most of the Red Wings games have been within a goal of their opponents whether they won or lost. When it comes to the Sabres, Detroit hoped that they didn’t have to fight them off in a shootout as they did Dec. 1.
When it came to their second meeting, it didn’t have a great start, as shots to the net were scarce in the first ten minutes of the game. Each team had a power play but was unable to put any pressure on the opposing goaltenders. Turnovers were occurring as well, which wasn’t what Detroit wanted to do early on.
Buffalo took the lead on shots in the final minutes trying to put some on Petr Mrazek who was back in net for the Red Wings. The 25 year old dealt with the opposition’s shoddy offense to keep them from scoring the opening goal in the period. They took nine shots against the Red Wings but only won 6 of 16 on the faceoff. Buffalo would try to improve things as they rolled a power play into the second period.
It nearly cost them with a minute left in the penalty as they lost the puck to Darren Helm who went away went away with it to score shorthanded. Sabres netminder Chad Johnson got way ahead of the play leaving the net wide open but Helm missed his chance to score on the empty net leaving the game tied.
When the game returned to even strength, Pavel Datsyuk made his first good run at the net. He went into the Buffalo zone with most of their line watching him like pack of wolves. Hiding in the back was Brad Richards who Datsyuk saw for a pass that gave him his second of the season on a snap shot that easily went into the net for the 1-0 Detroit lead.
Buffalo wanted to make their moment and tie the game with Detroit and nearly had it with Evander Kane taking his second shot of the game on Mrazek. By the midpoint of the game, Buffalo made their efforts known in the Red Wings end taking seven shots while Detroit had yet to put into a higher gear.
They got a chance at 14:56 where Mike Weber gave the Red Wings a penalty shot on Johnson. Tomas Jurco got the honor to go head to head with the 29-year-old goalie for the Sabres but was stopped on the mark. The Sabres went to their third power play with 90 seconds to go but they didn’t make much of their chance with the extra man. With the Sabres 0 and 3 on the power play, it helped Detroit make a late offensive rush against them and tally up the shots on goal finishing the period with 13.
With the margin still at only a goal, the Red Wings needed something big to happen in the third or risk the usual. Buffalo had every opportunity to cover the spread between them and Detroit and began to show a little effort but not enough to make a statement. The same could be said for the Red Wings as they were trying to increase their lead but couldn’t get the big names in position to find the shooting line.
The scoring chances were looking serious as the final five minutes went into play with the Sabres hunting for a tying goal that would gain them a point. They did it with 4:14 left where Buffalo won the faceoff in the Red Wings zone going right to work on Mrazek. Although Sam Reinhart missed on a drive from the far end, it was his second shot that scored the important goal that had them dead even with the Red Wings. Ryan O’Reilly got credit for the deflected shot gaining his 11th.
Johan Larsson quickly made it 2-1 a minute later as he snapped the puck through Mrazek to get his first of the season. It put the Red Wings points streak in danger causing coach Jeff Blashill to challenge the play. The challenge was whether Buffalo was off sides but a swift review from officials had them failing on the overturn.
Detroit was left with one last option to pull Mrazek from the net with 2:05 left giving the team six of their best shooters on the ice. Their two-minute chance to score had the puck bouncing all over with little time to set up a shot. Gustav Nyquist nearly had the tying goal on an open net but Johnson brilliantly stopped his shot in the final play that ended the streak in its tracks.
He earned first star honors for the game making 32 saves for a .969 save percentage. It was his eighth win of the season that ended a two game losing streak to his name. For Mrazek, he ended a three game winning streak for his sixth loss stopping 28 of 30 but not the two that made the difference. With plenty of time off, Detroit will get back to work on their current issues before hosting the Vancouver Canucks Friday.