Quick Hits: Sabres @ Red Wings

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The Buffalo Sabres battled back and forth with one of the better offensively-talented teams in the National Hockey League tonight. When the final buzzer sounded though, it would be Detroit who skated away with the decisive shootout victory.

Things did not start off very well for the Buffalo Sabres. Less than two minutes into the game, the Sabres found themselves in their own zone. Detroit was possessing the puck and increasing their pressure on Buffalo’s defense.

Zach Bogosian found himself wrapped up by a Wings player in front of Linus Ullmark. This opened up a clear shooting lane for Tomas Tatar. Without hesitation, Tatar put home his 9th goal of the season at 1:34 of the first period.

Things would not get much better for Ullmark as the period progressed.

Sometimes in the game of hockey, you just need puck luck on your side. A rising shot from defenseman Jonathan Ericsson clanked off the glove of Justin Abdelkader, and immediately popped up in the air. Instead of dropping to the ice, this puck’s forward momentum caused it to flip over the shoulder of Linus Ullmark.

Talk about bad puck luck.

Abdelkader’s 6th goal of the season put Detroit up 2-0, just 10:32 into the game.

Buffalo would claw their way back into this game before the first period expired, thanks to Evander Kane.

Kane had himself headed up ice with Rasmus Ristolainen on a very nice 2-on-1. Evander Kane pulled back slightly to make it seem as if he were going to pass the puck to Ristolainen. Instead, Kane rocketed a wrist shot short side on Petr Mrazek. Kane’s 3rd of the year, at 17:30 of the first, brought the Sabres within 1 heading into the 2nd period.

The second frame would bring two more goals, one for each team.

Drew Miller, aided by a David Legwand giveaway, was setup for the perfect shot when Josh Gorges attempted to break up the play. Keyword there is “attempted”. The next faceoff would be at center ice.

Miller’s 1st goal of the season, at 4:21 of the second, would increase Detroit’s lead back to 2 goals.

Not to be outdone, and as previously mentioned, the Buffalo Sabres would again have a rebuttal to Detroit’s goal scoring ways.

Rasmus Ristolainen was fed the puck from Matt Moulson. Ristolainen winds up, takes a shot. Zemgus Girgensons was screening the goaltender, when he completed a very impressive play.

Take a look below.

The wonderful hand-eye coordination from Zemgus Girgensons resulted in his 2nd goal of the season, at 17:09 of the second period. Heading into the 3rd period, Buffalo again trimmed Detroit’s lead to just one.

The momentum was rolling downhill for Buffalo at this point, even through the intermission.

It took only 53 seconds for Evander Kane to strike on the power play. Kane was possessing the puck in near Petr Mrazek. Kane took a shot, which was saved. The only issue here was that Mrazek popped the puck off his pads, which resulted in a juicy rebound.

Kane would not be denied a second time. He put the puck home for his 4th goal of the season, and his 2nd of the night. After chasing for over 2 periods, the Sabres had finally tied this game up.

As mentioned, the momentum grew larger and stronger for the Buffalo Sabres.

Minutes later, Zach Bogosian would take a nice shot from the point. Jamie McGinn found himself screening Mrazek, as the shot came in. McGinn did not touch the puck, but the distraction proved enough as Bogosian’s shot bounced off the inner thigh of Mrazek and into the goal.

Bogosian’s 1st goal of the season, at 3:22 of the third period, pushed Buffalo ahead 4-3.

Buffalo would hold the lead until a bad Brian Gionta penalty would lead to a Detroit power play.

Justin Abdelkader took a shot on goal at, which Linus Ullmark seemed prepared to save. Unfortunately, that would not be the case. Abdelkader’s shot trickled through Ullmark’s five-hole at 13:31 of the third. Abdelkader’s 7th goal of the season, and 2nd of the game, would tie the game up at 4.

A very intense overtime period, featuring a ping off the pipe from Evander Kane, could not produce a winner. This game would need a shootout to determine who walked away with the extra point.

Buffalo was foiled by Petr Mrazek with all three of their shooters (O’Reilly/Moulson/Eichel), where Detroit only found themselves foiled by Linus Ullmark on two occasions (Nyquist/Datsyuk).

Brad Richards, the third shooter for Detroit, would put one past Ullmark for the game-winning shootout goal.

With this 5-4 shootout loss, Buffalo drops to 10-12-3 (23 points) on the season. That leaves Buffalo at 7th place in the Atlantic Division and 13th in the Eastern Conference.

Looking ahead, the Buffalo Sabres take the ice next when they host the Arizona Coyotes this Friday night, at the First Niagara Center.

Let’s dive head first into some quick hits!

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    • Fantastic Four

I’m not about to waste your time to talk about the horrendous Fox film that was a box office bomb recently. That film that featured a rock man with no rock genitalia,  you know what I’m talking about.

I am referencing the (fantastic) four assists from world’s greatest defenseman ever Rasmus Ristolainen this evening.

What an evening Ristolainen had. 27:55 TOI, 4 assists, 4 shots, 2 hits, 50.91% Corsi For in all situations,

risto hot

Ristolainen was on fire, much like Michael B. Jordan in the above animated gif image.

Want more fancy things to input into your melon? Sure you do!

The development of this young defenseman has been astounding. Ristolainen continues to make strides every single time he is on the ice. Not only does he face the opposing team’s top talent on a game-by-game basis, but Ristolainen seemingly feeds off of it.

And y’all thought this rebuild was going to suck.

UPDATE: It’s all fun and games until the Buffalo Sabres ruin your narrative.

Ristolainen still on fire, and I’m too sad to re-write everything up there.

    • Bah gawd, it’s Kane!

If you may have been on the fence about Evander Kane, tonight’s game should show you the type of player he can be.

Kane was galloping around the ice all game, and definitely made his presence felt.

Kane wrapped tonight’s game with 2 goals, 6 shots, 2 hits and 24:38 TOI. Only Ryan O’Reilly played more forward minutes this evening.

Kane registered a team-high 69.39% Corsi For in all situations tonight, which highlights the type of player he can be: a gritty, goal-scoring puck possessor.

I think it is safe to say that the Buffalo Sabres are going to be alright moving forward with Evander Kane in their stable of forwards.

Also, thanks Winnipeg. You’re the best.

    • Where in the world is Johan Larsson?

The downward spiral of Johan Larsson continues.

This guy was on his way to proving his worth last season, as the year drew to a close. As soon as the 2015-16 season began, Larsson essentially disappeared from the ice.

Tonight, Larsson recorded 8:08 TOI, which is a lot less than his season average of 13:09 TOI per game.

Is Dan Bylsma giving up on Larsson? Only time will tell there. With someone who was expected to provide a little scoring with some grit on the 4th line, Larsson has underwhelmed.

In 22 games this season, Larsson has recorded 3 points (3 assists), 27 shots and 28 hits. That’s just not good enough.

Larsson’s seat might just be getting a little warm, as Dan Bylsma continues to look for secondary scoring and grit wherever he can find it.

Written by Ryan Wolfe

Ryan Wolfe is the founder and editor-in-chief of BLTD Sports. He can be heard on the BLTD Podcast. Ryan's writing is also featured over at TheHockeyWriters.com.

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