DETROIT - The Buffalo Sabres have found an ability to positively respond after a disappointing loss. The only two regulation games they've lost so far this season have come on the front half of a back-to-back set, and they've come back both times with shutout victories the next game.
Back on Oct. 16, they opened a three-game road trip with a disappointing 5-2 loss in Anaheim. The next night, they blanked the Kings 3-0 on the strength of a superb defensive effort.
Last night, Buffalo fell into an early hole to the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden and ultimately lost 6-2.
The team regrouped on Friday and came away with another shutout - their third of the season - this time in the form of a 2-0 win over the Detroit Red Wings at Little Caesars Arena.
"We've just got confidence in here. There's no panic," alternate captain Jake McCabe said. "We lose a game, we didn't have our best night, obviously, everyone was a little off, and we just refocus and focus on the next game.
"The past is the past. Focus on that next shift, that next period. When you really narrow your focus, you can do a lot of good things."
Buffalo is now 9-2-1 on the season and has yet to lose back-to-back games.
"You always have the mentality that you never want to lose two in a row," goaltender Linus Ullmark said. "That's an obvious thing for us. You want to get on the winning track right away. You don't want to get those second, third, fourth losses and get in a slump. You want to keep the train rolling at all times."
Ullmark made 41 saves, including 21 in the third period to earn his first shutout of the season. McCabe and Sam Reinhart scored for Buffalo.
"For me, that was the most enjoyable win of the season under the circumstances of having lost our way in phases of the game yesterday that were quite disappointing," head coach Ralph Krueger said.
"…They were the better team early in the game, there's no question about that, but midway through the game, you could feel it tipping. We got our game going and were able to neutralize them an eliminate almost any scoring chances until we got the lead.
"Then Linus helped us weather the storm. But overall, I thought we built an excellent game off the back-to-back and a game that's really going to strengthen us mentally moving forward."
The Sabres found themselves shorthanded with 2:10 left in regulation and had to go up against Detroit's 6-on-4 attack for an extended period of time.
"It's nice that we have a two-goal lead. Linus is making that first save and you've just got to clear up pucks and clear up sticks, especially with two extra bodies in front," McCabe said. "We stuck to our structure and got the job done."
Video: BUF@DET: McCabe fires home snap shot to open scoring
McCabe got Buffalo on the board with 8:20 remaining in the second. The play started when Jack Eichel won a neutral zone draw and then eventually brought the puck into the Detroit zone down the right wing, then around the net and back up the left-wing halfway.
Eichel battled with Dylan Larkin and Tyler Bertuzzi and as he was falling down along the boards, got the puck to Reinhart, who sent it back to McCabe.
Waiting patiently for a shooting lane, McCabe took his shot and with Victor Olofsson screening, the puck made its way past Jimmy Howard shortside to give the Sabres a 1-0 lead.
"The first one was just a goal created on will," Krueger said of Eichel's play on that shift. "There was a wall battle, he gave it all and that's the captain we need to step up and make the difference to tip this game in our favor. He really came out as a leader today in so far as understanding more and more what it takes to win in the National Hockey League. He's setting the example."
Video: BUF@DET: Reinhart taps in power-play goal
Buffalo started the third period on the power play and used the fresh sheet of ice to their advantage. At the 1:15 mark of the period - and with 5 seconds remaining on the man advantage - Reinhart capitalized on a crisp passing play. Eichel zipped the puck cross-ice to Olofsson, who sent it over to Reinhart to deflect it in.
Reinhart now has five goals on the season while Eichel collected his fifth multi-point game of the season and his first on the road.
Eichel has 13 points (4+9) in 11 games against the Red Wings since the beginning of the 2016-17 season, including eight points (2+6) in six meetings in Detroit. He has recorded at least a point in each of the last six matchups between the teams.
Ullmark's first shutout of the season
Video: BUF@DET: Ullmark blanks Red Wings with 41 saves
Ullmark was busy in net, particularly in the first period when Detroit outshot Buffalo 12-6. He made a number of big saves including this one on Valtteri Filppula:
Video: BUF@DET: Ullmark stops Filppula's breakaway bid
He also faced a flurry at the end of regulation when Buffalo was trying to kill off the penalty.
Ullmark was credited with five saves in the final 1:51, but he was quick to point out the efforts of his defense, particularly a block by Rasmus Ristolainen with 39 seconds left that led to a clear.
Video: BUF@DET: Ullmark keeps Red Wings off the board
"The boys are busting. They're tight. It's not just the D corps that's tight, it's all the boys in here," he said. "We're cheering for each other a lot more than we used to do. We're keeping the mindset of just going forward and cheer on us and try to pick everyone up. It's everybody for the team and all for one."
The Sabres' next game is Monday night when they'll host the Arizona Coyotes at KeyBank Center. The GMC Game Night pregame show will begin at 6:30 p.m. on MSG with faceoff scheduled for 7 on MSG and WGR 550.