Red Wings stage furious rally again but fall short in Buffalo, 6-3

Detroit News

Buffalo − The Red Wings almost did it again.

They fell behind by a large margin, staged a furious rally, but this time fell a bit short Thursday, as the Buffalo Sabres defeated the Wings 6-3.

Buffalo led 5-0 after two periods before the Wings roared back to cut the deficit to 5-3 on two Dominik Kubalik goals and a Jordan Oesterle tally.

But Buffalo’s Kyle Okposo completed the hat trick with an empty-net goal at 16 minutes, 22 seconds, giving Buffalo the three-goal lead.

Maybe this was best for the city of Buffalo, and this region of New York, which has endured a gargantuan blizzard in the last week and are just now digging out of it.

Thursday’s game against the Red Wings was the first major event around the Buffalo area and brought a sense of normalcy and relief back to people.

BOX SCORE: Sabres 6, Red Wings 3

The Wings played the perfect opponent through 40 minutes but made fans very uneasy with their second dramatic comeback in two days.

Kubalik scored two goals, one on the power play, and Oesterle added another as the Wings cut a 5-0 Buffalo lead to 5-3 when Oesterle scored at 7:11.

But a Sabres’ power play, though unsuccessful, settled things down for Buffalo, and the Sabres clinched it with Okposo’s empty netter.

How strange and unpredictable are professional sports?

The night before, the Wings went into Pittsburgh with only one practice under their belts after the holiday break, fell behind 4-0 after one period, yet rallied and defeated the Penguins (who played a game the night before) 5-4 in overtime.

So the Wings travel to Buffalo on an emotional night, having earned points in three straight games, and facing a Buffalo team that hadn’t practiced as a team for six days and played since Dec. 19.

And the Sabres looked absolutely electric through two periods.

More:Derek Lalonde has mixed emotions as Red Wings visit blizzard-ravaged Buffalo

The Wings fell to 15-12-7, while seeing a two-game win streak come to an end. Buffalo (17-14-2) has won five consecutive games.

Talking before Thursday’s game, coach Derek Lalonde was hoping for a continuation of Wednesday’s momentum, but it didn’t arrive until the third period.

“You hope it’s a continuation of the success we had over the last two periods (Wednesday) but I just think we have to compete,” Lalonde said. “We didn’t do that early on (Wednesday).”

The Wings fell to 15-12-7, while seeing a two-game win streak come to an end. Buffalo (17-14-2) has won five consecutive games.

Magnus Hellberg got the start in net with Ville Husso ill and made 29 saves.

Lalonde said it was important not to give Buffalo, an explosive offensive team, easy offense. But they did.

“If they play with an extra little jump, they’re playing that much more aggressive and assertive and we give them easy offense,” Lalonde said. “They’re leading goals per game in the league and they’re dynamic offensively through all four lines.

“It’s going to be about us more than anything.”

Lalonde wasn’t sure how the Sabres would react to the time off, but knew Buffalo’s offensive attack could be a factor regardless of how much time off they had.

“They have a lot of organized chaos with their offense, it’s just a bunch of dynamic players that make plays,” Lalonde said. “They’re a real good offensive team that is playing real well.”

Buffalo displayed that quick strike offense early and often through 40 minutes.

Casey Mittelstadt scored two goals (one a power play), as did Okposo, with Jeff Skinner adding the other goal.

Mittelstadt opened the scoring, putting in a loose puck after JJ Peterka’s one-timer landed in the crease and Mittelstadt tapped the puck past Hellberg at 15:32 of the first period.

It stayed 1-0 after one period, but Buffalo exploded for four goals in the middle frame.

Skinner made it 2-0 at 1:20 of the second period, his 17th goal, converting a shot after the puck bobbled off Filip Hronek’s stick straight to Skinner in the slot.

Mittelstadt got credit for his second goal, at 10:28, after Hronek knocked the puck past Hellberg, giving Buffalo a 3-0 lead.

Okposo scored the next goals, giving him five for the season, both goals the direct result of Buffalo’s fourth line supplying a strong forecheck and getting the puck to Okposo alone in front.

Twitter: @tkulfan

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