DETROIT – Tage Thompson was already thinking about the Buffalo Sabres’ next game inside the visiting dressing room at Little Caesars Arena on Saturday.

Thompson scored on the power play to give the Sabres an early lead, but the Detroit Red Wings responded with four unanswered goals to earn a 4-1 victory. The loss opened a five-game road trip for the Sabres, which continues in Seattle on Monday.

“I thought it was a hard-fought game by both teams,” Thompson said. “Obviously, the outcome’s not what we want, but we don't really have time to dwell on it.”

The loss dropped the Sabres to five points behind the Red Wings, who hold the second Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference standings with one game in hand. The two teams have one more head-to-head meeting in Detroit on April 7.

The Sabres entered the day on a three-game winning streak, which included a 7-3 victory over the Red Wings at KeyBank Center on Tuesday. The Red Wings, meanwhile, had lost seven straight games in regulation to squander what had once been a sizeable lead in the standings.

The Sabres opened the game as they had in their two recent victories, earning a 10-8 shot advantage in the first period and pulling ahead when Thompson buried a wrist shot on the power play. The Red Wings came out desperate in the second period, tightening the game defensively and pulling ahead on goals from Christian Fischer and Patrick Kane.

Detroit finished the second period with a 27-17 edge in shot attempts.

“I think we came out pretty good with a lot of intensity,” Sabres forward Zemgus Girgensons said. “We’ve got to give a little bit of credit [to] them, they played a solid game. They were dialed in defensively and they kind of had a push in the second and the third. But yeah, we should have found a way to be more consistent.”

Zemgus Girgensons addresses the media

Fischer put the Red Wings on the board 5:35 into the middle period, carrying the puck in front from behind the goal line and – as he was brought down to the ice – burying a shot off his backhand. J.T. Compher lunged at a rebound to send a pass across the net to Kane for what would stand as the winning goal with 2:20 remaining in the period.

Daniel Sprong scored on a shot from the half wall to extend Detroit’s lead to 3-1 with 6:08 remaining in the third period. Lucas Raymond scored the final goal into an empty net.

"We didn't play how we needed to play in the second period,” Sabres coach Don Granato said. “We didn't have the energy and jump that we had in the first, obviously, and it slipped away. And I thought after that we played a little bit tense and a little bit tighter.”

The Sabres have 15 games remaining, beginning with their visit to Seattle. After that, it’s a three-game swing in Western Canada starting in Vancouver on Tuesday.

“Turn the page quick,” Granato said. “Obviously this road trip, we know, you look at it, they're all tough buildings, they're all tough teams and we obviously knew that ahead of time. The urgency is the urgency at this time of the year for everybody. Big trip ahead."

Don Granato addresses the media

Here’s more from Saturday’s game.

1. Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen started for the 24th time in Buffalo’s last 27 games and made 22 saves. He has now allowed three goals or fewer in 25 of his last 26 games played.

2. The Sabres had chances to build on their lead during the first period but were held to one goal by James Reimer, who finished the game with 24 saves. JJ Peterka had once chance hit the post when the score was still tied 0-0.

“What would've worked better was to score on a couple more chances,” Granato said. “I think we had a goal post and a couple of really good chances that would've been nice to build a lead when you're playing well. And that wasn't the case."

3.The Sabres went 2-for-2 on the penalty kill, allowing just one shot on goal in the process. They scored on one of two power-play attempts, the second of which came early in the second period before Fischer had put the Red Wings on the board.

“The power play in the second I thought kind of replicated our 5-on-5 play in the second,” Thompson said. “I thought we were a little stingy with the puck coming through the neutral zone, myself included. Just a little hesitant to dump pucks in if there wasn't a play to be made and turned it over and made life a little tougher on ourselves having to go back and break out a handful of times.”

Up next

The road trip continues in Seattle on Monday. Pregame coverage on MSG/MSG+ begins at 9:30 p.m. with puck drop scheduled for 10. Radio coverage can be found on WGR 550.