Skip to Main Content
The Official Site of the Buffalo Sabres

'Just keep shooting': Rodrigues helps propel Sabres to win in Detroit

Forward scores twice in 1st period of victory

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber /

DETROIT - Evan Rodrigues tried to keep the same mentality as the wait continued for his first goal of the season: Just keep shooting, and the puck will go in. 

It went in on his first shift of the night inside Little Caesars Arena on Sunday, giving the Buffalo Sabres an early lead and Rodrigues his first goal since March 17 of last season. Then, less than three minutes later, it went in again. 

Sometimes, all it takes is one. 

"Obviously, it was bound to go in eventually," Rodrigues said afterward. "Just keep shooting. Obviously, it was a bit of a relief, but I didn't really lose confidence. Like I said, it was going to go in eventually. It was nice to see it go in."

Video: Rodrigues scores twice, Sabres down Red Wings

Rodrigues' two goals set the tone for the Sabres in a 5-1 victory over the Detroit Red Wings. It was a bounce-back effort from their loss to Vancouver on Saturday, a game that prompted hard reflection at the team's morning meeting. 

The win featured contributions from throughout the lineup. Zach Bogosian also scored his first goal of the season. Zemgus Girgensons scored shorthanded, Rasmus Ristolainen scored on the power play, and Curtis Lazar tallied two assists for his first multi-point game with the Sabres. 

"Just the way we played last night, I think, got us going," Sabres coach Ralph Krueger said. "It was very disappointing, and we had a pretty serious morning today. I think everybody understood the messages that were flowing around and what we needed to do here, and we really came out and played with our character, with our personality, and that was an excellent start to the game."

Rodrigues put the Sabres on the board just 2:39 into the contest. Lazar knocked Red Wings defenseman Filip Hronek to the ice upon crossing the offensive blue line, collected the loose puck, and set up Rodrigues for a one-time shot from the high slot. 

Video: BUF@DET: Rodrigues hammers Lazar's dish by Howard

With the Sabres on the power play less than three minutes later, Rodrigues received the puck low to the side of the net. Recognizing that the penalty kill was focused high in the zone, he carried it to the front of the net, took an initial shot and jammed his own rebound past Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard.

Video: BUF@DET: Rodrigues jams home PPG for second goal

Krueger tried putting Rodrigues in position for his first career hat trick late in the game, sending him out for shifts alongside Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart. The latter set him up with a chance in front of the net, but Howard was able to make the save. 

"It's great to see him score a couple of goals," Krueger said. "Every day is a new day, but he's worked hard through some adversity here. I'm pleased for him. We tried to get him the hat trick and the team is really supportive of players in difficult situations. I thought the group around him helped him, too. It was just a good team game and he was part of it."

Indeed, the season has not always been smooth for Rodrigues, who last season set career-highs in games (79), points (29), and average ice time (15:49). He found himself in and out of the lineup, appearing in 25 of the team's first 45 contests. He was on the wrong end of at least two saves that will live on end-of-year highlight reels. 

Through it all, he says, he remained confident. 

"At the end of the day, it's hockey, and you keep reminding yourself and keep believing in yourself," he said. "I believe in myself that I can do it. I'm saying it again, but it was going to go in eventually and it was obviously nice to see them go in. Hopefully that continues."


Girgensons scores again

Girgensons now has goals in two straight games, bringing his season total to eight in 46 contests. It's his highest mark since he scored 15 goals during the 2014-15 campaign.

His recent play was rewarded with a promotion in the lineup. Girgensons began the game on a line with Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart, where his brooding style and willingness to crash the net could serve as a complement of the Sabres' top two playmakers. 

That said, it was on the penalty kill where Girgensons did his damage. Red Wings forward Robby Fabbri dove at an errant pass along the Buffalo blue line, giving Girgensons an open lane to pounce on the puck and score on a breakaway. 

Video: BUF@DET: Girgensons scores pretty SHG on breakaway

"Zemgus played a really good game," Krueger said. "You could see how he scores that shorthanded goal off the wings of what he was doing with Eichel and Reinhart. Anybody who plays with those guys gets an exciting experience. Those are two unbelievable, world-class players and Zemgus was able to add an interesting component to them. It's something that we need to take a look at for the future."


Offense from defense

After being outshot 11-3 in the second period, the Sabres padded their lead in the third thanks to offensive contributions from their back end.

Bogosian scored his first goal of the season at 2:35 of the third period. He carried the puck down low coming off a high cycle with Lazar and saw a lane open up as defenders directed their attention to Rodrigues at the net front, then cut across the net and beat Howard off his backhand. 

Video: BUF@DET: Bogosian backhands puck home to pad lead

"I wanted to bring it more to the middle and I think E-Rod was net-front, so he did a good job of taking his eyes away," Bogosian said. "I'm just trying to make a hard play there."

Even prior to Bogosian's goal, Krueger felt his team had regained control to begin the third period after weathering a hard push from the Red Wings in the second, thanks in large part to a pair of successful penalty kills and some big saves from Linus Ullmark. 

"I think even holding the 3-1 lead and maintaining it would have been fine, but it definitely seemed to take the wind out of their sails," Krueger said. "I thought the team had started fine and I was feeling comfortable with our game again. The goal, I think more than anything, just took Detroit completely out of the game."

Jack Eichel drew an interference call shortly thereafter, setting the stage for Ristolainen to benefit in his new home at the net front on the power play. Ristolainen outmuscled Red Wings defenseman Patrick Nemeth to locate a rebound in the crease and buried it for his fifth goal, matching his 78-game total from last season.

The Sabres, meanwhile, finished the game 2-for-4 on the power play and 3-for-3 on the penalty kill.

"Specialty teams are just showing the intensity of the execution of the 5-on-5 game," Krueger said. "It carries into power play and over into the way we play offensively and our PK carries into our defensive play. 

"Everybody just raised the bar today and the compete level was high for the importance of this game. We need to carry this momentum into Las Vegas. That's going to be a big test for us. We've got no time to think very much. A deep breath here on Monday and then away we go back at home, so it's important we take the good habits with us and build on what happened here today."


More numbers!

•   Rasmus Dahlin and Jack Eichel earned assists on Ristolainen's goal, extending their point streaks to four and seven games, respectively. 

•   Michael Frolik earned the secondary assist on Bogosian's goal, marking his first point with the Sabres. 


Up next 

The Sabres return home to host the Vegas Golden Knights on Tuesday. Coverage on MSG begins at 6:30 p.m. You can also listen live on WGR 550, with puck drop scheduled for 7. 

View More