Buffalo Sabres (14-11-1)
The Detroit Red Wings opened up a can on the Buffalo Sabres in the 1st period of Friday night’s game scoring three goals in the first period en route to a 4-1 victory. Jakub Kindl started the scoring with a pot-shot from the point that somehow squeaked by Buffalo goaltender Jhonas Enroth, who appeared to be screened on the play. Red Wings winger Johan Franzen picked up his 11th goal of the season on the power play to put the Red Wings up 2-1. Henrik Zetterberg quickly followed suit by poke-checking a puck away from Buffalo foward Jochen Hecht at the Sabre blue line and then passing the puck to teammate Valtteri Filppula, who put an easy wrist shot past a helpless Enroth to make the score 3-0.
It was another disappointing start to a home game for the Sabres, who once again came out flat and uninspired in front of the Buffalo faithful at First Niagara Center. Buffalo finally got on the board late in the 3rd when Jochen Hecht took a pass from Jason Pominville on a 2 on 1 and put it passed Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard. The excitement was short lived however, as Detroit put Buffalo out of their misery when Pavel Datsyuk scored on an empty net. The loss at home continued a downward trend for the Sabres, who just can’t seem to match the passion and intensity of their fans. However, Buffalo was delivered a shot to the arm when goalie Ryan Miller returned to net in Saturday’s road game versus the Nashville Predators.
Nursing a 2-0 lead in the second period, Nashville forward Jordin Tootoo took a five-minute major when he bowled over Miller on a hard play to the net. The play was eerily similar to the one committed by Boston forward Milan Lucic that had given Miller the concussion that kept him out of action for the past month. Buffalo was criticized for their passive response to the play, but didn’t make the same mistake this time. Miller started the punches himself, launching some jabs before a whole slew of Buffalo players jumped on Tootoo, throwing hooks and jabs. By the time the scrum cleared, Buffalo forward Paul Gaustad received a 10-minute game-misconduct and the Sabres demonstrated they do indeed have cojones.
The mayhem from the incident lifted Buffalo’s energy throughout the remainder of the game, and behind Miller’s 32 saves they found a way to win 3-2. It was an impressive display by the Sabres after such a miserable outing the previous night. On Friday the Sabres were lazy and they lost, twenty-four hours later they played with an edge and they won. The road warriors have shown their Jekyll and Hyde nature proving the volatile play that comes from the demanding NHL season.
-Special thanks to Erik Ebbing for his reporting and analysis.
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