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Trending: Red Wings skewered by Sabres, 5-1

Bowey scores Detroit's lone goal; Howard starts in net for ailing Bernier

by Arthur J. Regner and Dana Wakiji @ArthurJRegner and @Dwakiji /

DETROIT -- If you were to sum up the Red Wings season in three words, 'lack of consistency' would be in the running.

At times, the Wings have looked like a team on the verge of beginning to trend upward in the standings only to revert back to old habits and crush any momentum they may have been able to create.

In Sunday's 5-1 loss to the Buffalo Sabres at Little Caesars Arena, Detroit had a rough first period, giving up three goals, including one shorthanded tally and one on the power play.

Trailing 3-0 heading into the second period, the Wings found their game and played an outstanding period to pull to within two, 3-1, on a beautifully placed point shot by Madison Bowey.

But once again, Detroit could not sustain its solid play it established in the second period in which it outshot Buffalo, 11-3.

Instead, the Red Wings surrendered two early third-period goals 1:05 apart to fall behind, 5-1.

Bowey scored the Wings' only goal, while Evan Rodrigues (two goals, one power play), Zemgus Girgensons (shorthanded), Zach Bogosian and Rasmus Ristolainen (power play) lit the lamp for Buffalo.

Jimmy Howard (2-15-1) started in goal for the Wings, replacing scheduled starter Jonathan Bernier, who is nursing a lower-body injury. Howard stopped 22 of the 27 shots he faced for a save percentage of .815.

Buffalo goalie Linus Ullmark (14-12-3) improved his career record against the Red Wings to 5-0-2. He made 21 saves out of the 22 shots the Wings fired his way for a save percentage of .955.   

The loss snapped Detroit's (12-31-3) season-long three-game home winning streak.

Up next, the Wings will be on Long Island Tuesday night to tangle with the New York Islanders at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. With the victory, Buffalo (20-19-7), extended its winning streak at Little Caesars Arena to five games.

The Sabres will also play next on Tuesday night as they host the Vegas Golden Knights at the KeyBank Center in Buffalo.              

1. Madison Bowey: There's no doubt that Bowey has some good offensive instincts and ability. The 24-year-old defenseman is still working on consistency in the defensive side of his game, which most young defensemen in the NHL have to do. At 11:56 of the second period, Bowey's shot from the left point eluded Ullmark, going in the far side of the net. Since playing one game for the Grand Rapids Griffins, Detroit's AHL affiliate, in mid-December, Bowey has recorded six points (2-4-6) in 13 games. Bowey has 14 points (3-11-14) overall and is second among Detroit defensemen in scoring behind Filip Hronek's 25 points (8-17-25). Robby Fabbri and Dylan Larkin picked up the assists. Larkin's assist extended his point streak to six games (2-4-6), most by a Wings player this season. It's Larkin's longest since a six-game point streak last March 23-April 3, 2019. Fabbri extended his point streak to three games (1-2-3). Fabbri has five points in his last seven games (2-3-5). Bowey finished with 22 shifts for 18:47, had two shots, one giveaway, one takeaway, two blocked shots and was minus-1.

Tweet from @DetroitRedWings: Bowey has the boys on the board. #BUFvsDET@DTE_Energy | #LGRW

Quotable: "It started, I think, with Ehn's line, Abby there and Erne, I think a few shifts prior to that, they got in there, got on the forecheck and really took it to their D. I think we wore them down for about five minutes there and Larks' line came out, they did a good job of cycling, Fabbs made a nice play to me and Bert had a great screen in front of the net and I just had to shoot it. Bert kind of dragged him over, the goalie was kind of looking around him so that side was open and it went in there. It was a good all-around shift and a good sequence there, I guess you could say a good four or five shifts in a row that we needed. I think it gave us some momentum and I think we just gotta play better every night." - Bowey

Quotable II: "I think ever since the Christmas break, we've been playing well with the puck and confident with the puck. We've been supporting each other, we've had good jump. We didn't have that tonight. We need to find a way. We're going on to the Island next game to play a good team that's good at home, a physical team, so we're going to have to really support each other. We're going to have to get back to wanting the puck on our sticks and playing fast. Tonight, we didn't have it. You're not going to have it all 82 games but we have to have a better effort than we did tonight. We gotta turn this back around real quick." - Larkin

2. Jimmy Howard/Jonathan Bernier: Originally, Bernier was expected to start against the Sabres. But before the game, the Wings recalled goaltender Calvin Pickard from the Grand Rapids Griffins under emergency conditions. The Wings said Bernier was a scratch due to a lower-body injury. Howard, who was the Wings' All-Star last season, has struggled to regain that form this season. Rodrigues scored on Buffalo's first shot of the game, at 2:39 of the first period, when Curtis Lazar found him in the slot for a one-timer. Then Rodrigues scored on the power play at 5:00 of the first, knocking his own rebound past Howard from the left side of the net. Girgensons got a shorthanded breakaway and scored at 12:43 of the first. Bogosian's backhand from the low slot beat Howard at 2:35 of the third. Then Ristolainen got a power-play goal, also a rebound of his own shot, at 3:40 of the third. Howard has not won since Oct. 29, a 3-1 victory over the Edmonton Oilers, when he stopped 31 of 32 shots. Blashill said Bernier was to undergo a test Monday morning to determine how long he would be out.

Tweet from @DetroitRedWings: Dylan Larkin, Justin Abdelkader, Madison Bowey and Coach Blashill comment following Sunday's game against the Sabres. #BUFvsDET @CocaCola

Quotable: "I can tell you (Howard) looked great in practice yesterday, he worked hard, I think he's continued to work hard with (goaltending coach) Jeff Salajko. He didn't expect to play. Bernier had been injured at the end of the previous game but we felt he was going to be all right and yesterday he seemed OK and he woke up this morning and it was way worse and so then all of a sudden, Jimmy gets thrust into action. So for a guy who's trying to get to where he can get a groove going a little bit, it's hard when you're not expected to start. He's like the rest of us, we got to keep digging." - Wings coach Jeff Blashill

Quotable II: "The whole second period, it would've been nice to get more. We didn't. Those two goals there in the third were killers. We gotta help out Howie more than we did tonight, especially the start and especially on the power play. We gotta manage the puck more than we did. We can't leave him out to dry like that. Unacceptable by us." - Larkin

Quotable III: "They scored on their chances. We just gotta be a little tighter defensively on a few plays. You look back at the game as a whole. We've talked about specialty teams a lot but we gotta continue. Anytime you lose that battle, it's gonna make it tough on you. We gotta continue to get better each and every day on our specialty teams. We gotta find ways . . . like I said, it was kind of a weird start but if a couple of pucks, one or two goals find their way in, we gotta continue to play. It's easier said than done but you gotta continue to play. We had a great crowd in here tonight. Gotta find a way to get them energized." - Justin Abdelkader

3. Second period: To say that the second period has not been the Red Wings' best friend this year is a vast understatement. Coming into Sunday's game, the Wings had been outscored, 70-33, in that period. But the Wings came out far better in the second period Sunday than they had most of the season and much better than they did in the first period. Not only did they score their only goal, they had more time in the offensive zone and limited the Sabres to just three shots after allowing 12 in the first. However, there were some moments that were hard to describe as the Wings had a few Grade-A chances that would not go in the net. Valtteri Filppula jumped out of the penalty box and did not score on the breakaway, Givani Smith had a couple of chances on a wraparound try and Luke Glendening's shot and Darren Helm's attempt at the rebound just refused to cross the goal line.

Quotable: "I don't know about the one with the guy with the glove. I think I would've liked to see a penalty shot there, or something. It's hard to tell when it's a slow mo. We had tons of chances. We played great in the second. We need to play more like that, especially to start games at home." - Larkin

Quotable II: "Yeah, there were a few. I think that's hockey, sometimes the bounces don't go your way. I think we just gotta do a good job of staying focused, like I said, and not really getting down on those opportunities. I think if we just keep working together, working as a team and working hard and battling through this, I think it will put us in a good spot." - Bowey

Quotable III: "I thought we had a good second. We grinded them, we outchanced them, which you want to do. We played fast. If a few of those pucks go in, obviously coming out for the third period, that next goal is huge. They found a way to get it. Once it's 4-1, it makes it really tough." - Abdelkader

Quotable IV: "Then you get into the second period and play really, really good. Probably as good a period - certainly the best second period we've played all season, maybe as good a period as we've played all year - in terms of playing to our identity, putting pucks in behind, making their D turn, playing in the O-zone, grinding them down, wearing them down, getting chances, scored one and could have had another one easy. The only thing in the second that wasn't good enough was the power play." - Blashill

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