A HARD LESSON TO LEARN
Buffalo's home woes continue with 4-1 loss to Detroit
The Detroit Red Wings scored three times in the first period and never looked back, leaving Buffalo with a convincing 4-1 win over the Sabres in front of 18,690 disgruntled fans at First Niagara Center. The win was Detroit’s seventh in a row, keeping them two points behind Minnesota for first overall in the NHL.
Johan Franzen’s power play marker at 13:38 of the first would up being the game winner. With Jason Pominville in the box for high sticking, Franzen kicked a Nicklas Lidstrom pass to his stick before beating Jhonas Enroth with a bullet from the slot. Jakub Kindl and and Valteri Filppula also scored in the first, and Pavel Datsyuk added an empty netter late in the third. Jochen Hecht scored Buffalo’s only goal, his third in five games since returning from a concussion.
Getting out of a three-goal hole is never easy, and the veteran-laden Wings make it more difficult than most. They play an efficient game with very few turnovers, and are extremely difficult to knock off the puck.
Having spent the majority of his career out west, Robyn Regehr knows better than anyone in the Sabres locker room how tough the Wings are to play.
“We have to be a lot sharper right off the bat. We can still work much harder, be harder on the pucks [like Detroit],” he explained. “That's one of the things they're pretty much the best in the league at is once they do get the puck, they make very good, disciplined decisions. They're also very hard to knock off the puck. They really battle hard and they get pucks and people to the net. They do really good job of that.”
Pominville said it was a good lesson for the young Sabres.
“They got some momentum on the ones they didn't score, but it just shows you how hard you have to compete and how hard you have to be on pucks to be able to win because they're a team right now that's been going really well and they were hard on the puck.”
Nathan Gerbe took a skate to the face late in the game and didn’t return. Lindy Ruff was unsure of his condition and didn’t know if he’ll be available for Saturday’s game in Nashville. Patrick Kaleta reinjured his groin, and left the game after playing three shifts in the second period.
It's a quick turnaround for the Sabres who boarded the team charter immediately after the game for a flight to Nashville. They'll face the rested Predators on Saturday at 8 p.m.
7:15 - Good evening from the First Niagara Center in downtown Buffalo!
7:19 - We are about 20 minutes away from puck drop between the Sabres and Red Wings.
7:26 - Leopold and Ellis are scratched for Buffalo.
Commodore, Emmerton and Brunnstrom scratched for Detroit.
7:27 - BUF starters: Ehrhoff/Gragnani, Vanek/Hecht/Pominville, Enroth - DET starters: Lidstrom/White, Conner/Helm/Cleary, Howard
7:38 - Game on!
7:41 - Tyler Ennis on the ice for the first time since injuring his ankle on Oct 22.
7:41 - Tonight is Ennis' 100th career game
7:43 - You can't be a hockey fan and not love the simplicity of the Wings jerseys. Too bad they weren't rocking the blood red jerseys instead. I still think the home team should wear white.
7:44 - Gerbe dives into the open ice in the slot but fires a missle right at Howard's chest
7:46 - Classic Wings hockey: the play ends with Holmstrom parked in the crease, his butt planted firmly in Enroth's face. They back the play up all night long.
7:47 - We hit the first media break with 13:58 left in the 1st. Detroit up 3-2 in shots. Of course none of those have made it over the thin red line behind either keeper.
7:49 - Welcome back Patrick Kaleta. He's missed the last four games with a groin injury.
7:50 - Ennis skating on a line with Stafford and Roy.
7:52 - 1-0 DET: Holmstrom lugs the puck out of the corner and drops to Kindl at the point. His fluttering slapper airmails past a surprised Enroth. (8:50)
7:53 - Roy goes off for hooking. Wings to the PP
7:54 - Wings PP is 19/98 (19.4%) this season - 7th in NHL
8:02 - Pominville catches Drew Miller with a high stick in the offensive zone - Wings back on the PP
8:03 - 2-0 DET: Franzen takes the feed from Lidstrom as he's heading to the slot, kicks the puck up to his stick and wires a shot past Enroth. (13:38, PP)
8:04 - Franzen now has 11 goals and 24 points. Someone needs to explain to me why I dropped him from my fantasy team.
8:08 - DET 3-0: After some strong work by Zetterberg at the point to keep the puck in, he drops it for Filppula who skates in uncontested to beat Enroth low. (14:41)
8:10 - Big glove save by Enroth on Holmstrom who was left all alone in front.
8:11 - 2:52 left in the 1st. Sabres being outworked and outshot (15-8) so far.
8:13 - Vanek on the ice with Roy and Stafford.
8:13 - Vanek wraps his arms around Filppula and gets 2 mins for holding.
8:14 - Last minute of play. Not much going right for the home side so far.
8:17 - That's it for the 1st - Detroit jumps out to a 3-0 lead, and also outshoots Buffalo 18-8.
8:35 - Detroit is 10-1-1 this season when leading after 1; Sabres are 1-4-0 when trailing after the 1st
8:35 - Game on!
8:40 - Kassian digs hard down low to keep the puck in the Wings zone, and eventually draws a tripping penalty. Abdelkader in the box for Detroit's first penalty of the night.
8:42 - Bodies flying all over the Detroit zone. Howard covers up the loose puck after losing his twig.
8:44 - Pominville can't convert from 10 feet out after taking the pass from Vanek
8:46 - Sabres back on the PP. Kronwall takes a seat for tripping
8:50 - Stafford comes up empty on a hard drive to the net. Buffalo's best chance on a PP that is now 0/2 on the night.
8:51 - 9:43 left in the 2nd. Sabres hold a 5-1 lead in shots this period.
8:54 - Filppula gets the gate for hooking as he slows down Ehrhoff at the blueline.
8:59 - We're down to 5:52 left in the 2nd. And apparently party rock is in the house tonight.
9:02 - Roy trips Kronwall behind the Wings net; Detroit back on the PP.
9:03 - Six of the seven penalties called tonight have been stick fouls.
9:06 - Last minute of play.
9:07 - Vanek fires wide after being sent in alone on the touchdown pass from Hecht
9:08 - End of 2: Wings maintain their 3-0 lead. Shots were even at 9-9 --- after Detroit started the period with none through the first 10 mins.
9:25 - Game on!
9:30 - Kindl called for high sticking on Kassian. A kindl is also a great Christmas gift for book lovers everywhere!
9:30 - Howard has a very active stick for a goalie. Makes it difficult to center the puck.
9:33 - McNabb drops Datsyuk with a crunching blow along the boards. That's becoming a nightly occurence
9:36 - 13:11 left in the 3rd
9:38 - Vanek unloads a howitzer on Howard - who snares it with his lightning quick glove hand.
9:39 - Zetterberg spins in traffic and rings one off the crossbar
9:40 - Gragnani loses control of the puck behind the Buffalo net, and hooks Holmstrom to prevent a scoring chance. Wings on the PP
9:44 - 8 of the 9 penalties in tonight's game have been stick fouls
9:47 - Gerbe leaves the ice in some serious pain - looks like he caught Gaustad's stick right in the face
9:48 - GOAL!
9:49 - 3-1: Hecht one times Pominville's pass in the slot to get Buffalo on the board. Smart play by #55 to drag his back leg to stay onside during the rush.
9:50 - Pominville and Leino pick up the assists on Hecht's 3rd of the year (13:47)
9:53 - 4:55 remaining in regulation
9:57 - Detroit uses their timeout with 1:32 left in the 3rd
9:58 - Enroth on the bench. Faceoff to the right of Howard
9:59 - 4-1: After an Ehrhoff giveaway, Datsyuk scores on the empty net with a shot from outside the blueline.
10:00 - FINAL: Detroit wins 4-1