Photos by Jen Hefner/MiHockey
By @SKubus –
DETROIT – Detroit scored five unanswered goals Tuesday night to help snap its six-game losing streak just before the Christmas break.
Stephen Weiss, Danny DeKeyser, Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen each found twine, while Tomas Tatar lit the lamp twice for the Red Wings, who improved to 18-8-9 on the season with a 6-3 victory over the Buffalo Sabres. Detroit scored four power-play goals to give them 31 on the season and takeover the league lead.
“We didn’t give up much, but we made some big mistakes early, and they capitalized on the mistakes and I thought we really dug in, got pissed off and dug in,” head coach Mike Babcock said. “I thought we had great leadership tonight, our special teams worked and in the end, we just stuck with it and found a way to get a win, which is real positive, obviously. We needed one.”
The Red Wings also only allowed 16 shots on goal from the Sabres to set a new season low, besting the previous mark of 17.
However, it wasn’t entirely jolly in Detroit, as the Red Wings lost Weiss and defenseman Niklas Kronwall to injury during the game on what Babcock said were “easy calls” as hits to the head. Weiss had just made his return after missing the previous four games due to a shoulder injury, but he did add a power-play goal–his fifth of the season–before taking a high hit from Sabres defenseman Nikita Zadorov that forced him to leave the game.
Weiss himself said after the game that he underwent the league’s concussion protocol testing, but passed with flying colors, and that he should be good to go for Saturday’s game in Ottawa.
“I got my bell rung and I feel fine now,” Weiss said.
Just 2:36 into the game, a Drew Stafford centering pass bounced off Nick Deslauriers chest and into the net. The call on the ice was no goal, but after video review, it was confirmed to be a good goal.
In his first game back from a shoulder injury, Weiss tipped home a Jakub Kindl point shot on the power-play at 10:50 of the period to tie the game up at one aside.
“It’s been a tough week again, having to watch these games at home,” Weiss said. “So to come back and contribute offensively is nice. That’s what I’ve got to do to stay in the lineup so it was nice to get one and makes it even better with the win, especially being in the room and hearing that buzzer go off a few times, made it a bit easier.”
Chris Stewart regained the one-goal lead for Buffalo after taking a a perfect 2-on-1 feed from Cody Hodgson and burying one past Mrazek, who didn’t have much chance to make the save.
At the 6:44 mark of the second stanza, Kronwall took an awkward hit in the corner in his own end, sandwiched between both Stafford and Tyler Ennis. Kronwall was slow getting back to his feet and was forced to leave the game due to an upper-body injury.
Kindl found himself benched late in the first period and didn’t see his next shift until a powerplay came near the halfway mark of the second period. His one-timer from the point was blocked and led to a shorthanded breakaway goal for Buffalo defenseman Andre Benoit to give Buffalo a 3-1 cushion.
But DeKeyser kept his team in the game, as the former Western Michigan Bronco tallied his second of the season, a low wrister from the top of the left circle that beat Neuvirth through the five-hole to cut the Sabres lead to 3-2. That’s how things stood through 40 minutes.
The Red Wings captain tied the contest up at 4:19 on a one-timer from up high between the circles, his seventh of the season with the assists going to linemates Pavel Datsyuk and Justin Abdelkader.
Tatar’s 13th of the season, a one-timer from DeKeyser on the power-play, at 11:30 gave Detroit its first lead of the game and a huge one past the halfway mark of the third period. That marked the 10th time this season that Detroit has scored at least two power-play goals in a game. It was also the 30th man-advantage goal of the season, which propelled the team to first in the NHL in power-play goals.
On his 35th birthday, Franzen gave himself a nice present late in the third period, breaking a 14-game scoreless drought to make it a 5-3 lead for Detroit on a power-play, the third man-advantage goal of the night for Detroit.
“I think it was good for everyone to find the net, and no different for Mule; had a good game tonight, worked hard,” Zetterberg said.
Tatar added his 14th of the season and second of the game before it was all said and done to tie Gustav Nyquist for the team lead, another power-play marker. Not a bad way to ring in the holiday season.
“That’s the thing; when the pucks just won’t find the net, you have to over-shoot it and keep shooting and hopefully some pucks will find their way,” Tatar said.