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Sabres edge Red Wings for first home victory

by Joe Yerdon

BUFFALO -- Tyler Ennis and Zemgus Girgensons scored in the shootout Sunday to give the Buffalo Sabres a 3-2 win against the Detroit Red Wings at First Niagara Center.

"You hate losing more than you love winning. Winning's awesome," Girgensons said. "It's a different feeling. It feels good. I just hope we can keep going and improve."

Ennis and Girgensons helped the Sabres win at home for the first time this season. Goalie Michal Neuvirth made 36 saves through 65 minutes and stopped two of three shots in the shootout for Buffalo. The Sabres are 2-2-1 in the past five games despite scoring six goals over that span.

"We worked and they took it to us a little bit in the beginning of the third period and I thought we fought back and they went ahead 2-1, we fought back and tied it up which is a great sign," Sabres coach Ted Nolan said. "We bent a little bit today but we didn't break and [it's] the first time I think we've come from behind to get a victory.”

The win came in the first of a four-game homestand for the Sabres.

"We've got a little bit of a home stretch here," forward Chris Stewart said. "We've got a chance to put together four or five games at home and a couple wins and some Eastern Conference and divisional opponents coming in too. So I think we've just got to build on it. We had a rough October and we weathered the storm and we're going to learn a lot more about what this team's about in November."

Stewart tied the game 2-2 at 13:08 of the third period when he scored his first goal of the season. Stewart snapped a one-timer off a pass from Ennis that was initially stopped by Jimmy Howard (19 saves), but it bounced off Red Wings defenseman Brendan Smith and crossed the goal line.

"I was coming from the bench and we kind of made eye contact and he put it right on my stick," Stewart said. "I got it off pretty heavy. I almost thought about head-butting it in."

The Red Wings had a potential game-winning goal by Henrik Zetterberg waved off with 2:32 left in overtime when officials ruled Johan Franzen interfered with Neuvirth in the crease. Franzen played for the first time since Oct. 17 after he missed six games because of a groin injury.

"I was talking to the ref a couple times during the game and he said, he told me, 'I know he's standing in the crease so whenever they're going to score a goal I'm going to disallow it,'" Neuvirth said. "I was glad he actually did it."

The Red Wings did not argue the call.

"We were in the crease. Don't be in the crease," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "It was a disallowed goal."

The Red Wings outshot the Sabres 4-0 in overtime, but were unable to put one legally past Neuvirth. The Sabres took advantage of the added opportunity in the shootout.

"We had a power play in the overtime. We have to score one of those," Detroit forward Tomas Tatar said. "Unfortunately we didn't do that. And a shootout is 50-50, they scored more goals than we did, and they won the game."

Pavel Datsyuk scored 4:27 into the third period to give the Red Wings a 2-1 lead. Datsyuk's goal came when he took a pass from Justin Abdelkader, got in behind the Sabres defense and beat Neuvirth over his right shoulder into the top corner of the net for his fifth goal of the season.

"He's playing well and it's fun to play with him," Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg said. "He creates a lot of chances and he created a lot of chances for other people. When he got his chance, he scored. That's what's special about him."

Datsyuk extended his goal-scoring streak to four games. His two points gave him eight over the same span.

"Pavel is a magic man," Tatar said. "He's playing really well and I think everybody knows it. Everybody has to be aware of him. His plays are really good. … He gave us a chance to win the game."

But Datsyuk's goal also provided the Sabres with a wake-up call.

"I think in a 1-1 game we were kind of back on heels and when Datsyuk scored that goal, I think we got back on our toes and we played with nothing to lose," Stewart said. "We got pucks in, we started forechecking hard and winning 1-on-1 battles and we got rewarded."

Sabres forward Brian Flynn opened the scoring 6:55 into the second period with his first goal of the season. Flynn chipped in a rebound of a Girgensons wraparound attempt over Howard. The goal was Flynn's first since Feb. 28, 2014, a span of 25 games.

Tatar tied the game 1-1 with his third goal of the season at 12:55 of the second. The Red Wings kept the Sabres defense pinned in their end and Tatar sent a wrist shot from outside the faceoff circle past Neuvirth.

"We want to win it in regulation, that's the whole thing," Smith said. "We should've put more points on the board."

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