The idea of a possible rift in the Buffalo Sabres' dressing room made Zach Bogosian laugh. No matter the public perception surrounding Sam Reinhart's postgame comments Thursday or the apology that followed, Bogosian and his teammates insisted they were as close Friday as they were at the end of the 10-game winning streak.
They appeared to be anything but a broken team Saturday afternoon inside KeyBank Center. The Sabres picked each other up when defensive mistakes were made, and their talent up front yielded two power-play goals in a 3-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings.
The Sabres improved to 27-20-7, including 2-1-1 on this seven-game homestand, after allowing four or more goals in eight of their previous 10 games. They have not won back-to-back games in nearly two months.
In addition to their defense correcting previous mistakes, the offense continued to thrive. Casey Mittelstadt and Kyle Okposo scored power-play goals, while Conor Sheary broke a scoreless tie early in the second period. Linus Ullmark made 28 saves, perhaps none more important than his stop on Andreas Athanasiou's third-period breakaway.
Dylan Larkin scored for Detroit (21-27-7) in the second period. Facing practically a 6-on-3 in the final minute — Evan Rodrigues lost his stick with the Red Wings on a power play and having an extra attacker because of an empty net — the Sabres killed a penalty to hold on for the win.
Opening salvo: Sheary intercepted a pass in the neutral zone, skated toward the Red Wings' slot and shot above Howard's blocker to make it 1-0 at 1:15 into the second period. It was Sheary's ninth goal of the season and his third since Nov. 8.
Power-play breakthrough: The Sabres' other two second-period goals came on the power play, as they improved to 5-for-10 in February. First, Mittelstadt made it 2-0 with his eighth goal of the season with assists from Jack Eichel and Rasmus Dahlin. Secondly, two minutes after the Red Wings cut the deficit to one goal, Okposo scored with a high, short-side shot from the right-wing circle.
Wraparound: Amid an impressive game by his defensemen, Ullmark gave up another wraparound goal at 17:44 into the second period when Larkin sped past Zach Bogosian and tucked the puck around the far post using his backhand.
Finding iron: Though the game was scoreless after one period, the Red Wings outshot the Sabres, 12-4, and had five more shot attempts through 20 minutes. Buffalo's best scoring chance came when Casey Mittelstadt hit the crossbar with 11:50 remaining, and Bogosian nearly scored when he one-timed a backhanded pass from Eichel.
Streaking: Rodrigues assisted on Okposo's goal to extend his point streak to three games and has 10 points, including six goals, in his last 12 games. Mittelstadt also extended his point streak to a career-high four games, and Ristolainen has nine assists in his last nine games.
Milestones: Sabres defenseman Marco Scandella and Ristolainen appeared in their 500th and 400th career NHL games, respectively.
Lineup: In addition to Ullmark starting, Tage Thompson was inserted back into the lineup and C.J. Smith was a healthy scratch. Defensemen Nathan Beaulieu and Matt Hunwick were also out of the lineup. Detroit defenseman Trevor Daley and winger Tyler Bertuzzi did not play because of injury.
Next: The Sabres continue their 11th set of 16 back-to-backs when they host the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday at 3 p.m.