DETROIT -- The Buffalo Sabres had just 10 shots on goal through two periods Friday night. Not a recipe for success.
Even though Buffalo got a tying goal from Ryan O'Reilly early in the third, it was not nearly enough for a victory. Tomas Tatar's screened shot with 11:24 to play eluded Robin Lehner to snap a 1-1 game and the Detroit Red Wings went on to a 3-1 win over Buffalo in the Sabres' first game at Little Caesars Arena.
The loss dropped the Sabres to 0-2-2 in their last four games and 5-10-4 overall, keeping them in last place in the Eastern Conference and 30th overall out of the NHL's 31 teams. The Red Wings, meanwhile, improved to 6-2-1 in their last nine games.
The Sabres were outshot, 21-10, through 40 minutes but were much better in the third period as Detroit only had a 12-10 advantage. But Buffalo couldn't get any other pucks past Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard and Dylan Larkin's goal with 4:06 left proved to be insurance for the Wings.
Injury scare: Jack Eichel limped off the ice with 36.8 seconds left in the second period after taking a hip to his right leg from Detroit's Luke Glendening. Eichel was, however, able to return for the third period.
Opening the scoring: It took more than 39 minutes for the scoreboard to change as Detroit finally took a 1-0 lead on Luke Glendening's goal with 55 seconds left in the second period. Glendening flipped a short backhand past Robin Lehner after Buffalo got hemmed in its zone in a play that started with a back pass by Jake McCabe and contined as Nathan Beaulieu, Ryan O'Reilly and Jake McCabe were all unable to gain possession.
Pulling even: While being outshot, 23-11, Buffalo got the game even on O'Reilly's goal at 5:50 of the third period. O'Reilly got his seventh of the season by taking a Victor Antipin rebound and depositing it into an empty net with Howard out of position.
An active PK: The Sabres ran into penalty trouble in the game but killed off all four of Detroit's power plays over the first 40 minutes. The Red Wings had eight shots on goal but Lehner held strong.
Rockin Robin: Lehner shut out the Wings Oct. 24 in Buffalo and his shutout string against them this year ended at 99 minutes, 5 seconds on the Glendening goal.
Near miss: Jordan Nolan took a boarding penalty in the second period and was joined in the box by Evander Kane, who was nailed for cross checking, giving Detroit a 27-second, 5-on-3 advantage. The Sabres killed that off -- and Nolan was then stopped on a breakaway by Howard after O'Reilly found him with a long pass just as Nolan stepped out of the penalty box.
Long arm of the law: The Red Wings played without winger Luke Witkowski, who sat out the first game of a 10-game suspension from the NHL for re-entering the ice during a fight that developed late in Wednesday's game here against Calgary.
"Honestly, I didn't know that was a rule and I obviously know now," Witkowski said prior to the game in his first comments on the ban. "I knew it was a rule you couldn't jump the boards. I thought it was a gray area here with the door being opened but lesson learned and you move on from here."
"I don't think the punishment fits the crime," said coach Jeff Blashill. "I read the rule. I don't the think the way the rule is written gives the league office ... or anyone in that department really any ability to apply judgment because it's so black and white.
"You're going to go through the season and see lots of things done that get way less games. There's going to be guys who elbow people in the head, guys who use their stick as a weapon and they're going to use less games, yet their intent to injure is way greater."
The fine: Witkowski will lose a tad over $40,000 in salary for the suspension. He said he was out deer hunting when he got the word and shot a buck during his session.
"Got to put food on the table," he joked.
Up Next: The Sabres open a four-game homestand Saturday night at 7 against the Carolina Hurricanes on Hockey Fights Cancer Night in KeyBank Center. The Sabres don't see the Red Wings again until a Feb. 22 visit here and a March 29 rematch in Buffalo