Wings let Sabres off hook, settle for OT loss

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Buffalo, N.Y. — The Red Wings earned one point Friday but not getting the second point hurt.

Kyle Okposo scored a power-play goal with 26 seconds left in overtime — after the Red Wings had failed to score on a power play — giving the Buffalo Sabres a 3-2 win.

The loss ended a three-game winning streak for the Red Wings (20-19-7) and they’ve now lost four consecutive games on the road (0-2-2).

The Red Wings also found out after the game they had to stay in Buffalo because Metro Airport was fogged in back home.

BOX SCORE: Sabres 3, Red Wings 2, overtime

The Red Wings rescheduled to fly back to Detroit Saturday morning but cancelled practice — which could make for some heavy legs for Sunday’s 12:30 p.m. start against the New York Rangers.

Buffalo’s Ryan O’Reilly tied the score at 2 at 15:51 of the third period.

“We had a lead late in the game and we gave up the late goal,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “You want to finish the game. There were some positive things we did but you have to finish the game.

“You have to find a way to get the two points and not walk away with one.”

O’Reilly stripped the puck from Danny DeKeyser in the corner, skated behind the net, then lifted a backhander past Petr Mrazek for his ninth goal, tying the score.

On the winner, with Frans Nielsen in the box for hooking, it appeared Okposo hooked DeKeyser by the hands shortly before the goal but there was no penalty.

The Red Wings felt otherwise.

“You watched it,” Blashill said. “It’s a big, big play.”

Darren Helm and Frans Nielsen (power play) scored the Red Wings goals.

Helm had broken a 1-1 tie at 13:38 of the third period in his first game since Nov. 15 — he had a dislocated left shoulder, and hadn’t scored since Oct. 21 — giving the Red Wings a brief lead.

Helm saw a loose puck between the hash marks and quickly snapped a shot past goalie Anders Nilsson.

“That definitely gave me a little extra boost for the last part of the game,” Helm said. “It was kind of the way I expected. I was pretty gassed a lot of the game, but I kind of pushed through it and it got better.”

The major bright spot might have been the play of Mrazek, who stopped 34 shots and consistently kept the Red Wings in the game with the quality of goaltending they’ve come to expect from him — but haven’t gotten enough of this season.

Mrazek frustrated the Sabres for much of the game with a variety of fine saves.

“He’s trending in the right direction,” Blashill said. “For a number of games, even games where he’s given up more goals than he wants to or we want him to, he’s still played real well and looks like he’s on top of his game.

“He has a swagger on top of his crease.”

The Sabres tied it at 1 with Reinhart’s power-play goal in the second period.

The Red Wings had just killed off a 24 second, two-man Buffalo advantage, but on a blocked shot, the puck caromed off the skate of Reinhart battling in front.

Replay determined Reinhart kicked the puck to his stick before the puck found the back of the net.

Officials took a look at the play, but quickly determined a goal.

The Red Wings took a 1-0 lead in the first period on Nielsen’s power-play goal.

Buffalo defenseman Zach Bogosian was called for holding at 8:50.

Just 12 seconds later, Nielsen took a pass from Mike Green and slapped a shot from between the hashmarks that got through Nilsson, Nielsen’s 10th goal. @tkulfan