Wings back in action one day after a huge comeback on the road against Pittsburgh capped off by an overtime game-winner and dance by Jake Walman.
This time, Detroit faces a very well-rested Buffalo Sabres team playing their first non-canceled game in forever. Buffalo is tough. Let’s see how this one goes:
Buffalo comes out with pace and the Wings match the energy early on. The expected early goal against nearly comes on a turnover by Ben Chiarot but Magnus Hellberg stops the backhander. Tage Thompson misses on a great scoring chance minutes later as well.
Detroit’s first shot on goal comes five minutes in with Filip Hronek flipping a partially-screened wrister in from distance. Their second comes on a great chance for Elmer Söderblom fed by Joe Veleno that Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen puts a stop to.
Just out of the first TV timeout, Jeff Skinner gets alone out front for a backdoor feed that Hellberg gets over very quickly to keep out of the Detroit net on the game’s most-dangerous chance just about seven minutes in.
Through and after the second TV break, the Sabres continue to pressure. They’re winning the races to pucks and testing the Wings’ defensive structure. The Wings are holding on as best they can, but the lapses are getting more noticeable.
13 minutes in, Jonatan Berggren takes a neutral zone penalty for kicking a skate out from under Jack Quinn. This is extra disappointing because his has been the only line generating offensive zone time.
The Wings PK does a really good job of preventing chances, but a lucky bounce right as the penalty ends gets the puck to Casey Mittelstadt’s stick in front. Jake Walman blocks a one-timer with his skate and it redirects directly onto the blade. 1-0 Sabres.
This goal doesn’t do a lot to change momentum in Detroit’s favor. Adam Erne takes a cross-checking penalty with 1:29 to go for giving the business to Rasmus Dahlin.
Fortunately, Buffalo cancels their own PP after just 19 seconds. Jake Walman gets interfered with at the Wings’ blue line by Owen Power. On the four-on-four, the Wings create some quality chances for Michael Rasmussen, Filip Hronek, and Ben Chiarot that are all denied for one reason or another.
The Score: 1-0 Buffalo
The Shots: 14-7 Buffalo
Observations: Refs let a fair amount of “subtle interference” go. As the period went on, Detroit’s counterattacking style became much more of a shell. I’m worried about them running out of gas against a Sabres team willing to push the pace like this. The fourth line was the best one.
The Wings can’t make good on the 19-second power play but do get some positive momentum until a broken rush and a bad clear by Hronek goes right to Buffalo’s Skinner to roof it over Hellberg from the slot. 2-0 Sabres.
Detroit gets a good shift about four minutes after this goal where Dominik Kubalik has a few good chances. The fourth line follows this up with more of their own. The Sabres’ defense clear the net-front quickly during these scrambles.
Luukkonen stones Larkin looking top corner from the slot as we can probably now say Detroit’s pressure counts as “sustained”.
That ends as Söderblom takes a tripping penalty by being really tall and Ilya Lyubushkin falling down while gawking up at him. Buffalo makes it 3-0 on the power play. Filip Hronek does the defensive work of stopping a backdoor pass to a guy standing wide open by tipping the puck into his own net. Good job.
Kyle Okposo is stopped by a windmill glove save on a partial break. This is just an appetizer to him scoring for real moments later. 4-0 Buffalo.
14:02 – Okposo again. 5-0 Buffalo.
The Wings do start to look at this point like they’re shaken back into playing as a simple unit from this point, but Buffalo is still controlling play. We get a gift power play with over three minutes to go as Hronek and J.J. Peterka are mean to each other for a full shift but somehow the Buffalo forward is the only one who sits (for embellishment no less, lol). It’s bad reffing.
Detroit doesn’t score.
The Score: 5-0
The Shots: 25-13
Observations: Watching the BSD crew point out several times how important it was on the Mittelstadt goal to keep your stick on the ice around the net became very frustrating as we saw several Red Wings chances ended as a result of them not doing that.
The third period starts with the good omen of seeing the clock winding down from 20:00 because that means it will hit 00:00 sooner and this will be over.
It’s not all terrible! Dominik Kubalik breaks the shutout at 3:35. Elmer Söderblom gets the puck in front and dipsy-doodles before feeding it across for the open net shot. 5-1 Sabres.
Detroit gets a power play a minute later as David Perron steps in front of Dahlin, who gives him a big hug from behind and then gets mad before going to the box.
Kubalik gets another. Berggren shot, Veleno rebound from the slot to feed it over and Kubalik with the finish. 5-2 Sabres.
Jordan Oesterle before the period is even 9 minutes old. Oh shit. 5-3 Buffalo.
Seider takes a penalty at 9:12 for roughing up Alex Tuch. It’s another game management call, but I don’t feel like complaining about the reffing too much here. The power play is not dangerous and Seider escapes to join a dangerous Wings rush.
The Wings keep the pressure up and pull their goalie with about five minutes to go. Luukkonen makes a real lucky save on a Perron shot where he misses with his glove but still gets enough of an arm on the shot to push it wide.
Okposo gets his hat-trick into the empty net with 3:38 to go. 6-3 Sabres.
Hard to tell whether Larkin held up trying to get an icing call or if he ran out of gas, but he got beaten to the puck by Girgensons to feed the Sabres captain for that one.
Sabres get another late power play. Joe Veleno sits for slashing.
I wrote earlier in the recap that I was worried about the Wings breaking down and that’s what we saw. They needed to hit reset in the 2nd period and sometimes it’s just quicksand all the way through. This is one of those learning experience games where the kids have to take stock of just how much work you have to put in night in and night out to earn wins.
That was the scariest vision of past Filip Hronek we’ve seen this season. For what it’s worth, I thought he responded well in the third. Not impressed with Chiarot’s game in this one. I think things were pretty soft for the middle six forwards here.
Wings will host Ottawa on Saturday night for our last game of 2022.