‘We were able to swarm them’: Larkin lifts Red Wings over Sabres in overtime

Detroit News

If only the Buffalo Sabres could be on the Red Wings’ schedule more often.

The Wings took full advantage of the lowly Sabres, completing the season sweep Monday with a 3-2 overtime victory.

They shut out the Sabres on Saturday at Little Caesars Arena in a lopsided 4-0 decision.

Dylan Larkin scored the game-tying, then game-winning goal in overtime, as the Wings earned a four-game brooming. Three of the victories were in overtime, Monday’s victory was the second time the Wings rallied from a two-goal, third-period deficit.

The Red Wings controlled the puck the entire overtime session. Larkin converted a pass from Nick Leddy near the hashmarks at 2:07. It was Larkin’s second goal of the game and 18th of the season.

BOX SCORE: Red Wings 3, Sabres 2

“We knew it was going to be a tough game,” Larkin said. “We played Saturday at home and had a great game, and we come here, and there’s a snow storm and a lot of factors outside of hockey we had to deal with.

“That was the best third period we’ve played in a long time. We rolled lines. We got our guys out there and won draws. We were able to swarm them. I liked the attitude when it went 2-2 and we pushed to the get the third. We have to keep going that way.”

The victory was the Wings’ fifth in 19 road games this season (5-11-3) and first since Nov. 30, ending a six-game winless streak.

“Finding ways to win on the road can breed confidence,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “Finding a way to win is a big thing and we need points. To be able to get the two points on the road, it’s not easy playing back to back and playing the same team.”

This was 48 hours after the Wings (18-17-5) dominated the Sabres at LCA. That left Buffalo (11-20-7) with something to prove.

With little energy (and few fans) at KeyBank Center because of a massive snowstorm, the Sabres were able to stay even, not giving the Wings much room offensively.

Neither team really did much with the puck.

“I don’t think a whole bunch was happening either way,” Blashill said. “We had stretches in the offensive zone, they had stretches, and no one was really creating a whole bunch of chances. It was just one of those games if it was tight checking, or lack of execution.”

Vladislav Namestnikov (shorthanded) and Larkin scored 3:07 apart midway in the third period, erasing a 2-0 Buffalo lead.

Larkin came off the bench, and blasted a pass from Leddy past goalie Aaron Dell in the slot for Larkin’s 17th goal.

Namestnikov scored his 11th, at 10:21 of the third period, cutting the Buffalo lead to 2-1. Namestnikov converted on a 2-on-1 rush with Moritz Seider.

“That really ignited us,” Blashill said of Namestnikov’s goal.

Henri Jokiharju and Jeff Skinner had Sabres goals.

Jokiharju snapped a shot that glanced off the backside of Seider and past goaltender Alex Nedelkjovic (26 saves). Jokiharju gave the Sabres a 1-0 lead at 9:56 of the first period.

Skinner made it 2-0 at 9:21 of the third period. He gathered the puck during a scramble in front of Nedeljkovic, and fired his 14th goal.

The Wings challenged Skinner’s goal for goalie interference, charging a Sabres stick interfered with Nedeljkovic and didn’t let the goaltender set himself.

But the replay proved it a good goal, and the Sabres were given a power play for the unsuccessful challenge.

Namestnikov’s shorthanded goal, though, evened out the goal-scoring sequence.

“It was a close enough goal to come off the board, and it’s a big thing if it does,” said Blashill of his decision to challenge. “They decided the other way and I get it. Those are close calls and now you have to dig in and find a way to kill a penalty. (Scoring the short-handed goal) gave us a lot of energy.”

The Red Wings had few quality scoring chances through two periods against Dell, who looked much more capable than two days before.

But the third period was a different story, with the Wings playing one of their better all around final 20 minutes this season.

“All four lines just rolled them over and played with confidence,” Larkin said. “Our defense was aggressive at the right time and Ned made a big save, or two. It was a great period.”


Twitter: @tkulfan

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