Skip to main content

Red Wings begin final stretch against Sabres

by Jon Lane

RED WINGS (37-27-14) at SABRES (21-48-9)


Last 10: Detroit 6-3-1; Buffalo 2-7-1

Season series: This is the fourth and final game between the Detroit Red Wings and Buffalo Sabres. Buffalo has lost its past six games to Detroit, the longest drought against the Red Wings in franchise history.

Big story: The Red Wings begin their final push to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the 23rd consecutive season with four games in six days -- three on the road -- beginning Tuesday in Buffalo. Detroit has won four of its past five and holds a one-point lead over the Columbus Blue Jackets for the first wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.

Losers of three straight, seven of eight and 2-13-1 in their past 16 games, the Sabres have four games left, two at home and two on the road.

Team Scope:

Red Wings: Detroit coach Mike Babcock held a longer-than-usual practice Monday since the team was off Sunday and with a potential playoff schedule in its future. Babcock made some line adjustments with Pavel Datsyuk centering Johan Franzen and Justin Abdelkader, and Riley Sheahan in between Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar.

"We think we have to be a real detail-orientated team in order to have success, so it's just reminders," Babcock said. "It's turning light bulbs on again, making sure guys are on top of their game."

With at least four teams competing for two wild-card spots in the season's final week, the Red Wings would like to stay in control of their destiny.

"The job is not done," Abdelkader said. "We don't want to be waiting till the last game and hoping teams are losing. That's not a fun position to be in. We have to take care of it ourselves as best we can."

Sabres: Buffalo has a whopping 13 players either out or nursing injuries, including its top-two goaltenders, and has dressed a franchise-record 44 different players according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

"Is it bad luck? I'm not too sure. I don't believe in luck, but that's just one of those things," Sabres coach Ted Nolan said after practice Monday. "But we've got four games to go. Hopefully we can get through this unscathed and get a couple guys back."

Goalie Matt Hackett will start for the Sabres. To back him up, goalie Andrey Makarov was summoned from Rochester of the American Hockey League.

Sabres forward Marcus Foligno (lower body) will return to the lineup Tuesday.

"It feels really good," Foligno said Monday. "It's kind of almost back to normal. It feels good enough to play."

Who's hot: Red Wings center Darren Helm has five points (four goals, one assists) in his past five games. Nyquist has points in 11 of his past 12 (12-3-15). Franzen has four assists in his past five. … Sabres forward Tyler Ennis has four points (two goals, two assists) in his past five games; center Cody Hodgson is 3-2-5 in his past five.

Injury report: Red Wings defenseman Jonathan Ericsson (finger surgery), and forwards Stephen Weiss (sports hernia surgery) and Henrik Zetterberg (back surgery), are on injured reserve. Forward Daniel Cleary (sprained knee) is out indefinitely. … Sabres forward Zenon Konopka (back spasms) practiced Monday. Forward Chris Stewart (high ankle sprain) will return. Defenseman Christian Ehrhoff (lacerated right ear) and forward Torrey Mitchell (undisclosed) are also expected to play. Forward Drew Stafford (undisclosed), defensemen Tyler Myers (upper body), Henrik Tallinder (lower body), Alexander Sulzer (upper body) and Chad Ruhwedel (concussion), and goalies Jhonas Enroth (lower body), Michal Neuvirth (lower body) and Nathan Lieuwen (concussion) are out.

View More

The NHL uses cookies, web beacons, and other similar technologies. By using NHL websites or other online services, you consent to the practices described in our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service, including our Cookie Policy.