DETROIT - The Red Wings are taking the lessons they learned last year and using that experience to grind out wins this year.
The Wings scored twice in the third period on goals by Tomas Tatar and Dylan Larkin to beat the Buffalo Sabres, 3-1, at Little Caesars Arena Friday night.
The victory gives Detroit points in three straight games (2-0-1) and four straight home games (3-0-1) for the first time this season.
They have also recorded points in seven of their last nine (6-2-1).
1. Dylan Larkin : Coming into this year, Larkin was determined to establish himself at center and improve upon a dismal sophomore season in which his game regressed after an impressive rookie campaign. He has rebounded nicely this season and is tied for the team lead in points with Anthony Mantha at 19. Larkin has four goals, 15 assists and is a plus-3. Larkin realized that he had to develop an inside game and not just play out on the perimeter when he's in the offensive zone. In Friday's game against the Sabres, he was in front of the net when a rebound came right to him and he buried it to give Detroit a 3-1 lead. With Larkin feeling confident, he is becoming a two-way force on the ice, leaving the disappointment of last season in the dust.
Quotable: "First of all, Larkin was excellent tonight. I thought for the last couple games, he maybe started to think maybe more offense and maybe you start kind of going to the wrong side of the puck and I thought he was excellent today. I just think it's a maturation process. Last year wasn't a surprise to me because there were habits that we had to change. When you change habits, you change it by talking to him, you change it by showing video, you change it by sitting him and all those things take away from your confidence. It's a process. I think we're paying dividends with it this year because he learned a lot of those lessons last year. I think he knows for him to be an elite player in this league, he's got to be a 200-foot player. Really, any of the elite winners in this league are all 200-foot players. That's what he wants to be and he wants to win as much as anybody I've been around. I thought he was excellent tonight." - Wings coach Jeff Blashill
Quotable II: "A lot of nothing happened tonight, there was a lot of back and forth and we had some good chances. (Robin) Lehner played pretty well. We couldn't get frustrated and we didn't and it paid off with two goals late, we were pretty lucky and Tats (Tomas Tatar had a) nice shot and mine was just a good bounce out front. When the games get tight, it does feel a lot like my first year when we were finding ways to win and last year seemed like things were going against us. But this year I think we're not waiting for it to happen, we're going out in the third period and finishing the job." - Larkin
2. Luke Glendening : Glendening will be the first to tell you that he won't be scoring any of the Wings' pretty goals this season. But that doesn't matter as you don't get extra points for style. Buffalo goaltender Robin Lehner was at his usual best against the Wings so it was going to take more than an initial effort to get a puck past him. With 55 seconds left in the second period, Darren Helm drove to the net for a shot, Lehner had the save and Glendening had to take two whacks at the rebound to put it in the net. That snapped Lehner's shutout streak against the Wings at 126:11. It marked Glendening's fifth goal of the season, two more than he had all of last season and good enough for third on the team, tying him with Tatar. Mantha leads with 10 and Gustav Nyquist, Frans Nielsen and Martin Frk are tied for second with six each. Glendening has now scored in back-to-back games for the second time this season. He also did so Oct. 12-13.
Quotable: "That line's (Helm-Glendening-Nielsen) been excellent. In the time they've been together, whether it was on the road or at home, they've been excellent. They go out against the other team's top line, they're our match line. Abby's (Justin Abdelkader) been involved in that as well at times and I think they've done a great job. When you're a match line and you're above offensive lines all the time, you're above them and you create turnovers because offensive lines want space and they're not giving them any space. They buy into it big-time. I don't know, what does Glenny have, five goals? That's what happens when you play from the right side of the puck and you're above and you're frustrating and you work as hard as they do. They've been a real difference-maker line for us. They free up other guys to create more offense as well." - Blashill
Quotable II: "He's been really good for us and playing a lot of minutes, a key matchup guy and big on the PK, but five goals here, that's impressive." - Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg
3. Jimmy Howard : Blashill has consistently said that the team would need elite goaltending in order to be successful this season. Howard has more than lived up to his end of the bargain. The Sabres did not have a ton of shots against him Friday night but they definitely had some quality ones. At 4:57 of the second period in a then-scoreless game, Jordan Nolan jumped out of the penalty box and had a breakaway that Howard stopped. At 16:30 of the second, Howard calmly gloved Seth Griffith's breakaway chance. Howard also had a couple of saves on Jason Pominville in the third period. Howard improved to 8-5-1 in allowing two or fewer goals for the fifth straight game.
Quotable: "(Lehner) played well. Howie was great as well. Our goalie played a little better." - Glendening
Quotable II: "I just feel we are more experienced. Last year when we had the lead and they scored we kind of stopped for a few minutes and next thing you know they scored two. This year we're way more calmer when they score, we just continue to play our system and strategy and so far it's working." - Tatar