BUFFALO, N.Y. – What constitutes the definition of a ‘trap’ game?
Well, Sunday's Atlantic Division game against the Sabres is a pretty good place to start for the Red Wings, who have dominated the series since 2003.
“I think any team that hasn’t won a lot, when they’re still hanging around in games they’re dangerous,” Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg said. “If you look at their lineup, they have some good players there.”
Entering Sunday, the Red Wings had won eight straight against Buffalo and were 13-1-1 in the series dating to Feb. 13, 2003. Furthermore, Detroit had scored nine goals in its past two games while the Sabres have struggled to score, and have been shut out five times already.
Friday, the Red Wings jumped the reigning Stanley Cup champs, scoring four first-period goals to rout Los Angeles. But Sunday, they couldn’t finish off a wounded Sabres club, though there were plenty of chances.
Friday, the Red Wings jumped the reigning Stanley Cup champs, scoring four first-period goals to rout Los Angeles. But Sunday, Detroit couldn’t finish off a wounded Sabres club, though it had plenty of chances.
“We didn’t start poorly. We had opportunities right from the get-go but we let them hang around,” coach Mike Babcock said. “We had to get the second one. We had lots of opportunity to do that.”
The Wings had chances to build on a one-goal lead in regulation, and so did the Sabres, but neither managed to do so. In the end, it was the Sabres picking up the extra point, sending the Red Wings to a 3-2 shootout loss at First Niagara Center.
It was the Sabres’ third win of the season and just their first on home ice.
“We have to bear down better,” said Zetterberg, who registered a game-high five shots on goal. “We created enough chances. When Pavel (Datsyuk) had his chance he took care of business. More of us got to be like him, when you got a chance put it away.”
Detroit fired a season-high 38 shots on goal, and had a goal in overtime disallowed, but still only slipped two goals behind Buffalo goalie Michal Neuvirth.
“We got almost 40 shots and had one goal disallowed so I think we created enough,” Zetterberg said.
After a scoreless first period, the Sabres struck first on Brian Flynn’s first goal of the season. The goal represented just the fourth regulation lead of the season for the Sabres.
The Red Wings evened the score with Tomas Tatar’s great individual effort at 12:55 of the middle period. Skating around the perimeter of the offensive zone – avoiding Sabres’ defenders in the process – Tatar finally found time in space near the top of the right face-off circle where he ripped a blast past Neuvirth.
“The shift before the guys had lots of pressure, they had lots of chances and they (the Sabres) went to change and there were guys who stayed on the ice,” Tatar said. “They were really tired so I just got the puck behind the net and kind of walked around and Kronner (Niklas Kronwall) made a good play in front of the net, he made a screen and the puck went through.”
Justin Abdelkader setup the Red Wings’ go-ahead goal early in the third. His perfect centering pass sent Datsyuk in a lone on Neuvirth. From there, Datsyuk cranked a low shot to the stick side on the Sabres’ goaltender at 4:27.
Datsyuk missed the first five games of the season with a separated shoulder, but since returning, the Magic Man has registered five goals and 10 points while extending his six-game point streak – the longest of his career to start a season.
“It took him to bit to get his pace but tonight again he was magic,” Babcock said.
Datsyuk’s line with Zetterberg and Abdelkader was electric during the second half of the game. The trio came at the Sabres in waves, creating several scoring chances, and nearly won it in overtime. But Zetterberg’s goal was waved off when both referees sited Johan Franzen – who missed the previous six games with a groin injury – for standing in the crease.
“We were in the crease. Don’t be in the crease,” Babcock said. “It was a disallowed goal. Good call.”
Sabres forward Chris Stewart sent the game into overtime with his first of the season, tipping a shot behind Jimmy Howard at 13:08 of the third period. Howard stopped 19 of 21 shots in the game.
The game came down to the shootout, where centers Zemgus Girgrensons and Tyler Ennis scored for the Sabres. Gustav Nyquist produced the only goal for the Wings.
For all of the good they did do Sunday, the loss, Detroit’s second shootout defeat of the season, really irked Zetterberg.
“Yeah, it does,” he said, “but I think we should have finished this before” it reached that point.