DETROIT – Four third-period goals – and three on the power play – helped power the Detroit Red Wings past the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday at Joe Louis Arena.
The Red Wings ended up going 4-for-6 with the man advantage in their 6-3 win over the Sabres. Buffalo held a 3-2 lead heading into the third before Detroit broke open the floodgates. Buffalo was outshot 39-16 in the game.
The Sabres are 0-3-1 in their past four games after winning 10 of 13. For Sabres coach Ted Nolan, it’s the type of penalties the Sabres took – minors for hooking, holding, roughing, delay of game for shooting the puck over the glass, slashing and another for holding – that is most troublesome.
“All the penalties were not very good penalties. And when you take bad penalties on a good team, they’ll make you pay,” he said.
Michal Neuvirth made 33 saves in net for Buffalo. He had missed his last start Sunday night due to the flu, but was able to keep the Sabres in the game early. He tipped his cap to the Red Wings’ well-oiled power play.
“They just took it to us. Their power play was unbelievable,” he said. “I had no idea what was going on out there. Three or four goals, I didn’t even see the shooter. They were unbelievable and I think the only goal I’d like to have back was the second one, the five-hole.”
Nicolas Deslauriers took one of the penalties, a roughing minor after the whistle in the offensive zone, that he thought helped turn the tide in Detroit’s favor.
“I think I take blame for that. My penalty – I wasn’t sharp enough to know there was an offside and they took momentum on that. So I’ll take the blame for everything that happened tonight,” he said. “They came out hard and we took a bunch of penalties. It killed us there.”
AN EARLY LEAD
The Sabres opened the scoring on a goal credited to Deslauriers 2:36 into the game. Drew Stafford drove to the right wing corner and threw a pass to the front of the net. The puck deflected up off the stick of Red Wings defenseman Jakub Kindl and out in front of the net.
Crashing the crease, Deslauriers had the puck hit him in the pants and it redirected in past Petr Mrazek.
Brian Flynn recorded the secondary assist even though he wasn’t on the ice. Flynn blocked a shot by Kindl that allowed the puck to move up ice but headed to the bench for treatment. Tim Schaller stepped onto the ice just before the goal was scored.
Detroit tied the game when Stephen Weiss deflected Kindl’s slap shot from the point through a screen and in the net through Michal Neuvirth’s five-hole with 9:10 remaining in the first.
Then, with 6:25 to play in the first period, Chris Stewart gave Buffalo a 2-1 lead on an end-to-end rush. Cody Hodgson came free with the puck down the left wing and worked around Detroit defenseman Brendan Smith. Stewart, streaking down the middle of the ice unguarded, was able to tap home Hodgson’s pass for his fourth goal of the season.
Andre Benoit notched his first goal as a Sabre when he scored shorthanded 9:00 into the second period to put Buffalo ahead 3-1. He blocked a slap shot by Kindl and raced down the ice with Flynn, who tapped it up to him and sprung him loose. Benoit skated in and roofed a shot over Mrazek.
Detroit inched closer when Danny DeKeyser beat Neuvirth five-hole with 2:06 remaining in the second to make it 3-2.
And from there, the Red Wings rolled. Henrik Zetterberg closed that gap with a slap shot 4:19 into the third period.
Tomas Tatar scored the go-ahead goal with 8:20 left in regulation on the power play and set up the first of three power-play goals for Detroit to end the game. Johan Franzen made it 5-3 with 5:58 to play and Tatar added his second of the night with 2:12 remaining. Detroit controlled the play for a majority of that time in the Buffalo zone.
“We were missing some of our key penalty killers. We have guys who just came up from the American Hockey League going against Zetterberg and [Pavel] Datsyuk and players like that,” Nolan said. “They’re going to find those seams when you don’t have your stick in proper positions and they took advantage of it.”
THE FIRST FOR JOEL
Joel Armia made his NHL debut, playing 14:47 on the top line with Zemgus Girgensons and Tyler Ennis.
The Sabres were without eight regulars for the game due to injury and illness. Armia was one of five players called up from the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League to help fill the holes in the lineup.
“The young guys played well for sure, but we have some top end players that weren’t there tonight,” Benoit said. “That’s always tough to fill in for those guys but at the same time, we need to find a way to step up and do a little bit more.”
The Sabres will have Wednesday, Thursday and Friday off for the holidays. The mandated break comes at a good time for players close to returning who need a few more days to recover. Buffalo will be back in action Saturday night when they host the New York Islanders at First Niagara Center.