Wings put damper on Hasek's night, down Sabres 3-1

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Buffalo, N.Y. — Petr Mrazek put the puck deep into his bag but was ready to bring it out if needed later before he boarded the bus.

The puck had Dominik Hasek's No. 39 on it, was a ceremonial puck on the night Hasek's number was raised to the rafters Tuesday in Buffalo, a night the Red Wings spoiled with a 3-1 victory.

Mrazek made 25 saves in his first start since Jimmy Howard (groin) was injured Saturday, but more than that, getting a victory on the night his Czech Republic idol was honored made it a special evening.

"It has his number on the puck, I wanted to keep it," said Mrazek, who also got to shake Hasek's hand during the pregame ceremony. It was the first time Mrazek had met Hasek. "I can tell people I played in the game. It's nice to have these memories. I have every puck from junior championships, from American League finals, every puck I can keep."

What did Mrazek say to Hasek in the pregame handshake?

"Congratulations," Mrazek said. "He deserved (the ceremony) for what he did. It was an exciting moment for him and for us, too."

Seeing Hasek's No. 39 raised to the rafters here was the only highlight for Buffalo Sabres fans.

The Red Wings made sure of it with a textbook road game, jumping on the lowly Sabres early and rarely giving Buffalo any breathing room offensively.

"We played a good road game," Mrazek said. "It's huge on the road when you have the lead 1-0 or 2-0 lead. That was big, I was happy we scored the first goal."

The Red Wings made a point of emphasis, after struggling against the Sabres in the previous two games this season.

"You don't want to give a team like that hope," Kyle Quincey said. "Last time we were down 3-1 (against Buffalo) and we had to grind our way back. Catch-up hockey is tough and it was a point we made before the game to get that first one and go from there.

"We're happy with the way it turned out.

Darren Helm (short-handed), Gustav Nyquist (power play) and Tomas Tatar scored goals as the Red Wings (23-11-9, 55 points) raised their record to 3-2 on this six-game road trip, which ends Thursday in St. Louis.

The night began with Hasek's banner-raising ceremony, which elicited a loud ovation from Sabres fans remembering those glorious years. What followed was a thoughtful and heartfelt speech from Hasek.

Many Red Wings sat on the bench and took in the ceremony, which lasted approximately 15 minutes.

Once the game started, the Red Wings made sure the emotion never returned in favor of the Sabres.

Buffalo forward Matt Moulson had a breakaway attempt early in the first period, but shot wide of the net.

The Red Wings took over from there against the Sabres (14-27-3, 31 points).

Helm made it 1-0 with the Red Wings' first short-handed goal of the season.

Helm came down on a two-on-one rush with Joakim Andersson, backed up the Sabres defenseman, and picked the left corner beating goalie Michal Neuvirth for his eighth goal at 9:42 of the first period.

"We've started well, but we haven't scored," said coach Mike Babcock of the recent road games. "But we've started good. We talked about it before the game if you start on time, you're way ahead of the game.

"We knew it would be a tight game and it was a game we had to have."

Nyquist increased the lead to 2-0 at 7:37 of the second period.

Neuvirth stopped a shot by Pavel Datsyuk, but the rebound went straight to Justin Abdelkader in front.

Abdelkader missed on the rebound, but Nyquist scooped the rebound and flipped in his 16th goal, ending a six-game drought and his second goal in 13 games.

The Red Wings failed to convert on a 90-second, two-man advantage late in the second period and Buffalo capitalized on the momentum.

Mike Weber scored his first goal of the season for the Sabres at 13:24, capping a nifty Buffalo rush after intercepting a Tatar pass.

But Tatar made up for the error with his team-leading 17th goal at 15:09 of the second period.