Red Wings Ride Three-goal First Period to 4-1 Win over Sabres

The Detroit Red Wings scored three times in the first period and never looked back, cruising to a 4-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres Friday night.

Jakub Kindl, Johan Franzen, and Valtteri Filppula provided the offense in the game’s opening frame, continuing a trend that sees the Red Wings undefeated when either Franzen or Filppula scores.

Kindl opened the game’s scoring 8:50 in. After the Sabres failed to clear their zone, Kindl threw a shot from the left point on net, handcuffing Buffalo goalie Jhonas Enroth for his first goal of the season.

Franzen made it 2-0 with 6:22 left in the first. With Detroit on a power play, Franzen got the puck in the slot and put a wrister past Enroth.

Just 1:03 later, Henrik Zetterberg took the puck away from Jochen Hecht at the Buffalo blue line and fed a streaking Filppula, who jumped up into the slot and snapped a shot by Enroth to make it 3-0.

Hecht would eventually atone for his giveaway, getting the Sabres on the board with 6:13 left in regulation. Hecht raced down the ice with Jason Pominville on a two-on-one, taking a pass from Pominville to beat Detroit netminder Jimmy Howard stick-side.

Hecht’s goal would not be the start of a Buffalo comeback, however. Pavel Datsyuk rounded out the game’s scoring with an empty-net goal from center ice.

Franzen’s goal was the lone power play goal of the night. Detroit had five tries with the extra attacker while Buffalo had four.

Howard made 27 saves on 28 shots in earning the win. Enroth stopped 32 of the 35 shots he faced.

The Red Wings continue their three-game road trip on Monday when they visit the Colorado Avalanche.


Detroit forward Chris Conner made his first appearance of the season, skating on the third line with Darren Helm and Danny Cleary after having been called up from the Grand Rapids Griffins on Wednesday night… Fabian Brunnstrom is not travelling with the team, as they’ve allowed him to spend time with his wife and newborn son before he will be sent back to the Griffins… Cory Emmerton and Mike Commodore were healthy scratches… Justin Abdelkader left the game in the third period after taking a high hit but later said he would be fine.

Postgame: Red Wings @ Sabres – 12/2

The Wings’ win over the Sabres tonight wasn’t quite what it seemed. Based on the first period and the final score, you’d think Detroit dominated the game. In reality, Detroit controlled the first period and then – until the last five minutes or so – both teams pretty much just coasted.

Buffalo had fewer shots in the first period than either the second or third and the first was the only period in which the Red Wings outshot them. The Wings took as many shots in the first (18) as they did in the rest of the game combined.

What you end up with is a period that defined the scoreboard but not the game.

I’m not sure if Detroit got lazy after taking the 3-0 lead or Buffalo started playing better; probably a combination of the two. The latter you have to expect but the former is disappointing. The now-seven-game win streak the Wings are on has gotten them back to the top of the conference. It’s going to end someday but I’d hate to see that loss come because the Wings got sloppy.

Jimmy Howard is a fantastic goalie but the team can’t continue to ride him like they have at times during the streak.

One good bit of news to come out of the latter stages of the game is that Justin Abdelkader is fine after taking a high hit in the third period.

Also good: Chris Conner looked solid in his first game as a Red Wing. I have to think he’s officially ahead of Fabian Brunnstrom on the depth chart right now, but things are going to get interesting once Jan Mursak returns from injury.

Red Wings – Blackhawks Postgame Thoughts

I said before the game that it wasn’t going to be a good one and it certainly turned out to be true.

The morning after, I’m trying to think of a single time where the Red Wings had sustained pressure in the Chicago zone, excluding their power plays. I can’t remember any.

I’m not going to directly blame that on injuries. There may not have been a lot of pressure but the kids called up from Grand Rapids were moving well. Cory Emmerton scored his first NHL goal (on a bit of a lucky bounce) just hours after being called up. The problem wasn’t so much a lack of talent out there for the Wings. It was a lack of energy.

Maybe that’s the ultimate effect of the injuries, but what we saw yesterday was a very tired Detroit team against a very rested Blackhawks squad. Aside from the fourth line, I didn’t see any jump from anyone.

You’re not going to win many games where you can’t get anything done in the offensive end but I think defense might have lost this game for the Wings. They’re relatively healthy on the blue line so there’s no excuse for Ruslan Salei backing off Bolland in the slot for Chicago’s first goal or the awful miscommunication that left both Jonathan Ericsson and Niklas Kronwall going behind the net on the fourth goal, leaving the slot open.

That first goal still bothers me for another reason, though. I don’t agree with Salei backing off Bolland but I can see why he did it. Bolland got away with whacking the hell out of him in their battle in front of the net. I think that was why Salei backed off, and the minute he did the puck got there. Bolland then scored and hit Salei one more time for good measure.

It’s a common thing for Red Wings fans to say but I don’t think there’s a chance in hell that Tomas Holmstrom would get away with doing the same thing without a penalty.

Just to pile on the refs, I thought the Henrik Zetterberg non-goal was a quick whistle. We’ve been through that one before. Yes, the ref lost sight of the puck. Yes, the play is dead as soon as he intends to blow the whistle. As I’ve always said, that’s not an absolute. The ref loses sight of the puck when he blinks but he assumes it’s still in play. In this case, the ref assumed Corey Crawford had control when he didn’t. I think he made that assumption too quickly.

I don’t think there’s much to take from this except for the All-Star break is coming exactly when the Red Wings need it. One game in the next eleven days, with many of the team’s injuries expected to return at the end of the break. Things should turn around.