DETROIT – The Red Wings have been doing fine at getting leads, but are looking to take the next step in playing a 60-minute game.
"One, I hope we continue to have leads late," Wings coach Jeff Blashill said after the morning skate. "Two, can we build on those lead so that when a mistake does happen – and mistakes absolutely are going to happen – it doesn’t result in the game being tied. And then three, can we eliminate some of those mistakes. So those are all areas we’re trying to get better at. Not the first one, I guess. The first one we want to maintain and the other two we’re trying to get better at."
It didn't take long for the Red Wings to get on the board.
Tomas Tatar backhanded the puck from the slot past Sabres goaltender Linus Ullmark at 1:34 of the first.
Mike Green and Gustav Nyquist assisted on the goal.
The Sabres followed up with a flurry of shots, including two by Zach Bogosian but Petr Mrazek stopped them all.
Then, proving that it pays to go to the net, Justin Abdelkader had Jonathan Ericsson's shot bounce off his right shoulder and left arm and go high over Ullmark at 10:32. Danny DeKeyser got the second assist.
The Sabres had a 2-on-1 with Niklas Kronwall back and Evander Kane sniped a wrist shot past Mrazek from the right circle at 17:30.
DETROIT 2, BUFFALO 1
SCORING: 1. DET, Tatrar (Green, Nyquist), 1:34; 2. DET, Abdelkader (Ericsson, DeKeyser), 10:32; 3. BUF, Kane (O'Reilly, Ristolainen), 17:30.
SHOTS: Detroit 13, Buffalo 16.
Since the return of Pavel Datsyuk and Brad Richards from injury, the Wings have had a little more balanced scoring.
But the fourth line had not contributed much in that department.
That changed at 4:21 of the second when Justin Abdelkader, behind the goal line, passed to Drew Miller in the left circle and Miller's shot found the top right corner of the net for a 3-1 Detroit lead.
Luke Glendening also assisted.
It was Miller's first goal in 32 games, the last coming March 29 at the New York Islanders.
It also marked Miller's 100th point as a Red Wing.
Kane tried for his second goal of the night at 13:04 and the puck bounced oddly, but Mrazek kept it out of the net.
The Wings had a 3-on-1 chance at 16:11 but Ullmark was able to stop Riley Sheahan's shot from the left side on a pass from Tatar on the right.
At 17:04, Kane got into a skirmish with Henrik Zetterberg. The resulting scrum earned roughing penalties for both Kane and Zetterberg plus Brendan Smith.
Just five seconds into the power play, Zemgus Girgensons deflected Ristolainen's shot through Mrazek's five-hole, cutting the lead to 3-2.
Matt Moulson also assisted on the goal. Moulson has five goals and five assists in his last 10 games against the Wings.
With less than a minute left in the period, Abdelkader and Buffalo defenseman Josh Gorges dropped the gloves.
DETROIT 3, BUFFALO 1
SCORING: 1. DET, Miller (Abdelkader, Glendening), 4:21; 2. BUF, Girgensons PPG (Ristolainen, Moulson), 17:09.
PENALTIES: 1, DET, Pulkkinen (too many men), 1:30; 2. BUF, Kane (slashing), 1:41; 3. DET, DeKeyser (tripping), 5:59; 4. BUF, Gorges (fighting), 19:04; 5. DET, Abdelkader (fighting) 19:04; 6. DET, Abdelkader (hooking), 19:04.
SHOTS: Detroit 20 (33), Buffalo 9 (25).
The Wings came into the game with the fourth-ranked penalty kill.
But after giving up a power-play goal late in the second, the Wings had trouble again at the start of the third.
Kane got his second goal of the game when he buried a rebound 53 seconds into the period, tying the game at 3.
Brian Gionta and Ristolainen assisted.
It was the fifth straight game in which the Wings have lost a lead in the third and sixth time in their last eight games.
Just a short time later, the Sabres took a 4-3 lead when defenseman Zach Bogosian scored from the left circle with Jamie McGinn screening Mrazek.
Girgensons and Ristolainen assisted on the goal. It was Ristolainen's fourth assist of the game, a new career high.
Ristolainen's previous career best was a three-assist game April 3 against the Chicago Blackhawks.
The Wings had been struggling on the power play, going three games without a power-play goal, but finally got a man-advantage goal at 13:31.
Abdelkader, who already had the Gordie Howe hat trick, scored from the right circle, sliding the puck under Ullmark's left leg. Nyquist and Kronwall got the assists.
Pavel Datsyuk nearly got the winner with 1:30 left in the third when his backhand shot from the low slot hit Ullmark in the right shoulder.
BUFFALO 4, DETROIT 4
SCORING: 1. BUF, PPG, Evander Kane (4), Brian Gionta, Rasmus Ristolainen, :53. 2. BUF, Zach Bogosian (1), Zemgus Girgensons, Rasmus Ristolainen, 3:22. 3. DET, Justin Abdelkader (7), Gustav Nyquisr, Niklas Kronwall.
PENALTIES: 1. BUF, minor, Brian Gionta, interference, 12:51.
SHOTS: Detroit 12 (45), Buffalo 5 (30).
It marked the fifth straight game and seventh in the last eight that the Wings went to overtime.
Unlike the others, this one was not decided 3-on-3, despite the Sabres getting a 4-on-3 advantage when Nyquist was called for tripping at 1:21.
The penalty kill was up to the challenge, allowing one shot but no goal.
DETROIT 4, BUFFALO 4
PENALTIES: 1. DET, minor, Gustav Nyquist, tripping, 1:21.
SHOTS: Detroit 1 (46), Buffalo 2 (32)
Nyquist shot first but Ullmark made the save.
O'Reilly went but Mrazek stopped him.
Datsyuk's shot was unable to elude Ullmark.
Moulson could not get the puck past Mrazek.
Brad Richards scored on Ullmark stick-side.
Jack Eichel shot the puck wide, giving the Wings the win and the extra point.
DETROIT 5, BUFFALO 4, SO