The Buffalo Sabres are off to a fast start, but could have their hands full against a Detroit Red Wings offense that may have hit its stride.
To remain undefeated and notch their best start in 31 years, Buffalo must win in Detroit on Friday for the first time in more than 12 years.
Chris Drury had a goal and an assist Saturday as Buffalo (3-0-0) beat the Ottawa Senators 4-3. The Sabres, off to their best start since the strike-shortened 1994-95 season, are looking to win their first four games for the first time since opening with eight straight wins in 1975-76.
However, they've lost eight in a row at Joe Louis Arena, dating to March 6, 1994. These teams haven't met in any arena since Detroit won 7-2 on Dec. 10, 2003, handing Buffalo its 12th loss in the last 14 meetings overall.
The Red Wings (2-1-0) were even better offensively in their most recent game, beating Phoenix 9-2 on Wednesday. Detroit, held to three goals through its first two games, had not scored that many times in one game since Feb. 13, 1996.
"Guys were shooting the puck a little bit more," said Jason Williams, who had a goal and an assist. "They happened to go in for us. On another night, they might not go in."
Defenseman Mathieu Schneider, in his 18th season, had three goals and an assist for his second career hat trick and his first points of the season.
The Sabres have not had any games that were nearly as one-sided, having opened with shootout victories over Carolina and Montreal. Not including goals awarded for winning shootouts, Buffalo has scored 10 goals while its opponents have nine this season.
"They've all been close. It would be nice to run away with a game but I don't think, in a lot of cases, this league is about teams dominating other teams," said Sabres coach Lindy Ruff, whose team plays its first seven games against teams which made last season's playoffs.
Martin Biron made his first start of the season Saturday and stopped 34 shots. Ryan Miller, the only goalie used by Buffalo in the playoffs last season, was in net for the first two games and stopped 61 of 67 shots.
Likely to be in the opposite net will be Dominik Hasek, the only goalie Detroit has used this season. He made 19 saves on Wednesday and has faced only 51 shots through three games.
Hasek played for Buffalo from 1992-93 through 2000-01, going 234-170-70 with a 2.22 goals-against average while winning six Vezina and two Hart trophies. He's won two matchups and lost two against the Sabres since they traded him to Detroit following the 2000-01 season, and lost to them in a shootout on Feb. 4 in the most recent meeting while he was with Ottawa.