Wings notes: Kubalik hopeful slump is over after quick outburst against Buffalo

Detroit News

Detroit — There was something Dominik Kubalik, and the Red Wings, could pull from the wreckage of Thursday’s 6-3 loss in Buffalo.

Scoring two goals within 1 minute 49 seconds was nice, especially when the puck hasn’t been going into the net for Kubalik as it had been earlier in the season.

But the goals meant a little less for Kubalik considering the way the game ultimately ended in Buffalo.

“Always when you score it feels good,” Kubalik said. “But the result, it’s not as nice. It’s nothing you should be happy about. It’s nice to get the scoring touch back, but I’d be a lot more happier if we had won.”

Kubalik’s goals got the Wings started in the third period and cut Buffalo’s lead from 5-0 to 5-2, springing hopes of another Wings’ comeback. Jordan Oesterle’s goal made it 5-3, before the Sabres were able to salt the game away with an empty net goal.

Kubalik’s reappearance on the scoresheet was one positive to come back out of the defeat.

With only one goal in his previous 15 games, Kubalik was enduring a frustrating slump, in sharp contrast to the beginning of the season.

Kubalik scored nine goals in the first 18 games and was universally being hailed as one of the shrewd free agent signings of the summer.

Kubalik’s two goals tied him with David Perron with 12 goals, just behind Dylan Larkin’s team-high 13.

“Sometimes it’s just how it is,” Kubalik said. “You just go through, I don’t want to say holes, but everyone has them in the season. You go up and down. You’re trying to be conscious to get those chances and be around the net and create something. But when they’re not going in, you say positive and keep doing the right things.”

Both goals Friday were typical kind of Kubalik goals. Converting a feed from Elmer Soderblom into an open net off a rush, then a one-timer on the power play.

“For sure Kuby is a finisher,” coach Derek Lalonde said. “Goal scorers, you want them to score goals and when you get those looks you want them to finish. He had two (looks) in the third and he finished both of them.”

Hellberg hangs in

Goaltender Magnus Hellberg got the start in Buffalo with Ville Husso unavailable (illness). Hellberg made 29 saves and had to fend for himself on several Sabres goals as the Wings struggled defensively.

“It’s tough because again, not a lot of volume (shots, 34) but the stuff we gave up was of high quality, grade A’s,” Lalonde said. “He played well, he competed in the third again to give us a chance. It’s a positive, the last two days for him.”

Lalonde said Husso is day to day, and Husso’s availability for the New Year’s Eve game against Ottawa is uncertain.

Tough stretch

The schedule didn’t do the Wings any favors coming out of the four-day holiday break.

One practice day, then back to back games in Pittsburgh (Wednesday) and Buffalo (Thursday) wasn’t an ideal stretch coming out of the holidays. Add in the fact the Wings had to land in Niagara Falls, about 30 minutes outside of Buffalo after the Pittsburgh game because the Buffalo airport remained limited because of a blizzard, and there were also travel issues.

The Wings had the option of on ice, or off, workouts Friday and was an opportunity to take a breath before the annual New Year’s Eve game.

“It’s a hard back to back,” said Larkin, noting the come from behind 5-4 overtime victory in Pittsburgh was also a factor. “With the emotional win, and coming in (to Buffalo), we didn’t really show up in the first or second (periods), and it’s hard coming back off a break.

“We’ll forget about this and going back home and playing at home, I expect a good effort.”

Senators at Red Wings

▶ Faceoff: 7 p.m. Saturday, Little Caesars Arena.

▶ TV/radio: BSD/97.1

▶ Outlook: The Senators (16-16-3) are coming off a 4-3 overtime victory in Washington…Ottawa has won two consecutive games and six of its last 10 (6-2-2)…RW Claude Giroux (14 goals) leads a balanced scoring attack that’s led by LW Brady Tkachuk (37 points) and Farmington native RW Alex DeBrincat (35 points).

Twitter: @tkulfan

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