Newark, N.J. — It was a dastardly performance in the first period Wednesday, but by prevailing ultimately in the shootout the Red Wings hope they have injected an essential ingredient lacking in their play for too much of November — confidence.
Asked if the team was nervous from the start, given the four-game losing streak and rough month, Jeff Blashill thought the lack of sureness, combined with eight giveaways in the period, thwarted their intentions.
“I think confidence is a big thing and when you haven’t won enough games, that eats away at you a little bit,” the Red Wings coach said after the Wings survived the Sabres.
“Getting through that was great. Jimmy Howard was a big factor in that, and then we built toward the second (period).”
The Red Wings were good in the second period, the only one of the three they won.
And inconsistency has been a problem, not only this season, but last.
If they can kindle the confidence they earned Wednesday, however, it might provide a significant boost.
Competence breeds confidence, and the Wings need a lot more of both.
“Good job of just sticking with it,” Howard said.
“We can take the positive out of it. Now we have to use that momentum and carry it over into New Jersey.”
In Game 2, Thomas Vanek’s return to the lineup encouraged some offense.
A bit unhappy with his performance in the first one, against the Flames last weekend, Vanek said he was thinking too much and reacting too slowly.
His more responsive, instinctual performance against the Sabres produced brilliant playmaking on the Red Wings only goal in regulation, by Gustav Nyquist.
Apologetic about adding an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty added to a hooking penalty deep in the offensive zone at the end of the second period, Vanek said the mistake really got him going.
And his fake-a-shot, then let it rip goal in the shootout helped provide the much-needed win.
“Fake whiffing it, yeah! You can call it whatever you want,” Vanek said, responding to a question.
“It’s a move I’ve done I think when I was 13 or 14, when I first came up with it. It is one of my favorite ones.
“All I’m trying to do is for the goalie to drop his glove and, in that instant, get it over him.
“So, it worked out.”
Red Wings at Devils
Faceoff: 7:30 p.m., Prudential Center, Newark, N.J.