Quick Hits: Sabres vs. Red Wings

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The last time the Detroit Red Wings were in town to play the Buffalo Sabres was back on January 2 when the Red Wings got a late goal from Tomas Tatar to give them a 4-3 win.

On Friday, both teams would play for the fourth time this season and the second time at the First Niagara Center. The result this time around would be much of the same, as the Red Wings dominated the Sabres in Buffalo and shutout the Sabres 3-0.

The first two periods went scoreless with the Red Wings having the advantage in shots on goal, 27-17, and the pace of play. The Sabres held their own in the first period getting a majority of the chances, but began to falter in the second period and gave the Red Wings more shot attempts on goal.

In the third period, the Sabres completely flat-lined nearly five minutes into the third period.  Buffalo managed to put two shots on goal in that time period, and failed to register a shot the rest of the game.

As for Detroit, it would take them 12-minutes to finally put the puck in the net for the first goal of the game. Rookie, Dylan Larkin would put a pass from Luke Glendening towards the goal and would go off Robin Lehner’s leg as he was going across the crease and into the net. It was Larkin’s 15th goal of the season, and he moved past fellow rookie Jack Eichel for goals and points on the season.

A little over five minutes later, Larkin was at it again as he drew the attention of every Sabres player on the ice. Larkin took the puck almost to the point, and then found Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg all alone behind the defense. Larkin put a perfectly placed pass to Zetterberg, and Zetterberg deked out Lehner for the second goal of the game.

In the dying seconds of the game, Buffalo would pull Lehner for the extra-attacker, but the Red Wing would seal the deal with an empty net goal to finish off the 3-0 win.

Petr Mrazek would close out the game stopping all 19 Sabres shots he faced. As for Lehner, he would end up stopping 42 of 44 shots faced but is still looking for his first win as a member of the Sabres.

Now, the quick hits:

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    • What offense?

The Sabres put up a good effort in the first period against the Red Wings, putting up the majority of shot attempts with 22 attempts over Detroit’s 18. In the second period, Detroit led the way with 25 shot attempts compared to Buffalo’s 18, but it showed that the Sabres were beginning to be out-matched by the Red Wings.

In the third period, the Sabres only mustered up six shot attempts along with their two shots on goal. As for the Red Wings, they put up 18 shots on goal while accounting for 33 shot attempts.

Yikes.

While the Sabres were able to pull off a 2-1 win over the Arizona Coyotes on Monday, the Sabres have been outscored by their opponent 6-3, and have been out-shot in the past three games by a total of 107-75.

While the top six forwards have been shooting the puck and putting the puck in the back of the net, the bottom six forward depth continues to struggle and play some pretty bad hockey.

Injuries to some of the top forwards certainly does not help with players like Sam Reinhart, Tyler Ennis, Zemgus Girgensons, and Nic Deslauriers.

Buffalo could use someone back in the lineup to help produce some offense, but until then, the Sabres need to figure out how to put more shots on goal and put the puck in the net.

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    • Robin Lehner still playing strong

One bright spot for the Sabres over the past two games has been the play of Robin Lehner.

Lehner has stopped 73 of the last 77 shots faced, has looked very sound positionally and almost looks back to form. In the past two games, Lehner has posted a 2.02 goals-against average, a .948 save-percentage, and has been the sole reason for Buffalo to stay in games.

It has been great to see both Chad Johnson and Robin Lehner playing well, but the Sabres have not had the problems in net for so many years. As long as both goalies can keep up their strong play in net, the Sabres will continue to stay in games.

    • Larkin – 3 vs. Eichel – 1

Both Larkin and Eichel have had very good rookie seasons in the NHL, but right now Larkin has the advantage on Eichel in the win column and in the points column.

Going into Friday’s game, Larkin and Eichel had identical statistics with 14 goals and 16 assists.

After Larkin’s two-point night, Larkin is now ahead of Eichel with 15 goals, 17 assists, and 32 points. In addition, Larkin still has two games in hand on Eichel on the season and could continue to put up the points on his fellow American.

One thing that both still have in common is that they still remain back of Chicago Blackhawks rookie, Artemi Panarin in the scoring race. Panarin is also playing on a line with Patrick Kane, which is helping his cause for points.

Either way, both Eichel and Larkin are going to be fun players to watch for many years to come.

    • Can Sabres play every game on the road?

The Sabres have had it rough on home ice this season, as they have gone 9-15-2 at the First Niagara Center this season. That is not good.

It has been a different story on the road, as Buffalo has gone 10-10-2 away from home. Before Wednesday’s loss to the Colorado Avalanche, the Sabres were riding a three-game road trip.

Luckily, the Sabres next two games before the All-Star break are on the road. On Monday, the Sabres take on the New York Rangers for the first time this season. The next day, Buffalo goes across the border to play in Canada’s capital against the Ottawa Senators.

Back on the road we go!

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Written by Brayton Wilson

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