Casey Mittelstadt heard plenty of cheers. The Buffalo Sabres got the usual jeers.
After Buffalo jumped to an early 2-0 lead in Mittelstadt's NHL debut Thursday, the team couldn't handle prosperity. Detroit went up, 3-2, late in the second and picked up a 6-3 victory in KeyBank Center.
The loss came against a team reeling even more than the Sabres. Detroit entered in a 2-12-1 rut, but it nonetheless rallied to hand Buffalo its fifth loss in six games.
Mittelstadt registered his first NHL point with 15:09 to play, earning an assist as the Sabres pulled within 4-3. The first-round pick won a faceoff to Evan Rodrigues, and Rodrigues' shot from the top of the slot eluded goaltender Jimmy Howard.
Welcome to The Show, rookie: Mittelstadt fell victim to an age-old prank. The players sent the rookie onto the ice first for warmups to celebrate his debut, and they hung back in the tunnel. Mittelstadt took a couple of laps by himself before the rest of the team joined him.
— John Vogl (@BuffNewsVogl) March 29, 2018
Warmer welcome: Sabres fans broke out in applause when Mittelstadt stepped onto the ice for his first shift with 1:27 off the clock. They clapped again when the shift ended.
Goaltending departure: The Sabres' Robin Lehner, who allowed three goals on 20 shots through two periods, didn't come out for the third period. Backup goaltender Chad Johnson replaced him.
Don't forget about me: While Mittelstadt received the early spotlight, Jack Eichel put it back on himself. The franchise center blew past Red Wings defenders on the right side and fired from the faceoff dot, putting his shot under the blocker of Howard with 3:16 gone.
The game's opening goal was the 25th of the year for Eichel, setting a career high. He scored 24 times in each of his first two seasons.
Doubling up: The Sabres' other big-name center made it 2-0 on the power play with 7:11 gone. After scoring just once in the previous 10 games, Ryan O'Reilly took a pass from Sam Reinhart in the slot and ripped a shot high into the net.
Quick answer: Just 30 seconds after O'Reilly scored, the Red Wings' Dylan Larkin also found the net from the slot.
Falling short: The Sabres took two penalties in the final three minutes of the first, but they also had the best scoring chances. Howard stopped Scott Wilson on a breakaway, and Johan Larsson put his breakaway chance wide.
Making it count: Where the Sabres failed, the Red Wings succeeded. While killing a penalty early in the second, Detroit's Darren Helm broke free for a breakaway. He stopped at the top of the crease to get Lehner to the ice, then dumped the puck home around him with 5:21 gone.
The goal, which made it 2-2, was the 10th short-handed tally allowed by Buffalo this season.
And down: The Red Wings took the lead with 3:34 left in the second, taking advantage of a faceoff violation by Mittelstadt. After Rodrigues was tossed from a power-play draw, Mittelstadt jumped the gun to earn a bench minor. Mittelstadt went to the penalty box, but Jordan Nolan skated over to replace him.
Just as Nolan left the box, Detroit scored. Anthont Mantha tipped a shot in front, then buried his rebound for a 3-2 lead.
Rude welcome: Johnson was in the crease for just 1:50 when the Red Wings scored to make it 4-2 on an odd-man rush. Niklas Kronwall lofted a pass to Justin Abdelkader, and the forward knocked it out of the air and between his legs to an open Andreas Athanasiou in front of the net.
No awareness: After Mittelstadt and Rodrigues combined to make it 4-3, the team lost focus. No one picked up Danny DeKeyser pinching from the point, and the defenseman put home an easy tap-in with 9:50 to play.
Sealing it: As Johnson attempted to head to the bench for an extra attacker, the Red Wings took advantage of a turnover. Evgeny Svechnikov beat Johnson to the net with 3:01 left.
Feeling Bullish: The Sabres welcomed the men's and women's basketball teams from the University at Buffalo during a first-period commercial break. Both Bulls teams won NCAA Tournament games this month.
Counting the house: The Sabres sold 18,493 tickets.
Next: Housley will make his first visit to Nashville since serving as the team's assistant coach for four seasons. Buffalo will take on the Predators at 8 p.m. Saturday.