DETROIT – The Sabres and Red Wings meet five times this season. If the next four are like the first one, fans are in for an entertaining season series.
With pretty goals, end-to-end action and brute physicality, Buffalo and Detroit had the crowd in Joe Louis Arena roaring Tuesday night. And the teams needed more than 65 minutes to settle the slugfest.
When it ended, the Detroit fans celebrated a 5-4 shootout victory.
Brad Richards scored the only goal of the breakaway challenge, dropping Buffalo to 2-0-1 in its last three games.
It was a quality effort against one of Buffalo's toughest opponents. The Sabres were 0-6-1 in their previous seven visits to Detroit and 1-8-1 in the prior 10.
Big chance: Evander Kane gave the Sabres a power play with 3:39 left in overtime. The left winger started from his own zone with speed, forcing Gustav Nyquist to trip him near the Detroit net. Kane struck the post for Buffalo's best chance with the four-on-three advantage.
Kane times two: Kane recorded his first multigoal game for Buffalo and the 17th of his career. The second goal tied the game, 3-3, with just 53 seconds gone in the third period. With the Sabres pressuring hard in the closing seconds of a power play, Kane buried his own rebound to give Buffalo its fourth power-play goal in two games.
Bogo on the board: Zach Bogosian, who missed the Sabres’ first 17 games with an injury, scored his first goal of the season to give Buffalo a 4-3 lead. The defenseman took a few strides from the point and put a low shot through the net-front entanglement of Jamie McGinn and Jonathan Ericsson. Detroit goaltender Petr Mrazek failed to get a clean look as the puck traveled between his pads with 16:38 to play.
Not going quietly: The Red Wings, who've had a tendency to blow third-period leads, erased one with 6:29 to play. With Sabres captain Brian Gionta in the penalty box for interference, Justin Abdelkader skated through the slot and beat Sabres goalie Linus Ullmark easily between the legs to make it 4-4.
In a hole again: The Sabres allowed the opening goal for the 15th time in their 25 games, with Detroit needing just 1:34 to get on the scoreboard. After establishing quality zone time, the Red Wings got the puck to Tomas Tatar. His ninth of the year came on a backhand from the slot.
Floater: The Sabres’ Ryan O’Reilly could only look skyward in disbelief as Detroit took a 2-0 lead with 10:32 gone. A high shot from Detroit defenseman Jonathan Ericsson struck Justin Abdelkader in front. The puck floated in the air over an unaware Ullmark, with the goalie never seeing the puck. He heard the crowd.
Kane’s keeper: Kane busted out of the Sabres’ zone for a two-on-one with Rasmus Ristolainen. As the defenseman drove the net, Kane kept the puck and cleanly beat Mrazek with a snap shot from the right circle with 2:30 left in the first period. Kane has a five-game points streak against the Red Wings.
Miller’s milestone: The Red Wings took a 3-1 lead when forward Drew Miller, the brother of former Sabres goalie Ryan Miller, recorded his 100th point for Detroit. Miller worked a give-and-go with Justin Abdelkader deep in the Buffalo zone, then ripped a shot over the shoulder of Ullmark.
Five seconds for fighting: The Sabres cut their deficit to 3-2 late in the second period when Kane’s physicality brought a power play. After he and Henrik Zetterberg got into a skirmish, Kane dropped the gloves for a fight. Detroit’s Brendan Smith jumped in to protect his captain, and all three players went to the box for roughing.
The Sabres won the ensuing faceoff, and Zemgus Girgensons tipped Ristolainen’s point shot with 2:51 left for his second goal of the year.
Up in front: The injury absence of Tyler Ennis put Girgensons in front of the net on the power play. Sam Reinhart has shown a goal-creating knack for delivering screens in front, but the lack of a playmaker has forced Reinhart to play along the wall. Jamie McGinn played in front for one unit, while Girgensons did it for the other. “It’s really what we need the most of on our power play right now,” coach Dan Bylsma said.
Five minutes for fighting: Josh Gorges recorded his second fight of the season to avenge a dangerous play along the boards. As Gorges skated to get the puck, Abdelkader hooked the defenseman and sent him crashing into the wall. Both dropped the gloves, with Abdelkader getting an extra two minutes for the hook.
Shots, shots, shots: The teams combined for 58 shots through 40 minutes, with Detroit entering the second intermission with a 33-25 edge. Buffalo outshot the Wings, 16-13, in the first, while Detroit answered with a 20-9 advantage in the second. Detroit finished regulation with a 45-30 lead.
Back in: Johan Larsson, scratched in the Sabres’ previous two games, returned to the lineup. He played as the left winger for center David Legwand and right wing Marcus Foligno. Forward Tim Schaller was scratched, as was defenseman Mike Weber. Ennis (upper body) and Mark Pysyk (bone bruise) did not make the trip.
Up next: The Sabres have a two-day break before returning to the ice Friday when they host Arizona. The Coyotes are one of the surprise teams in the NHL after battling Buffalo for the bottom last season. The Coyotes are in third place in the Pacific Division. Following the home game, Buffalo heads out west for a three-game trip to Edmonton, Vancouver and Calgary.