Power play fails Red Wings in loss to Sabres

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Detroit — The power play has been better for the Red Wings recently after struggling all season.

They even carved out a couple victories because of the production, scoring two goals each in two victories.

But Monday it reverted to old, ineffective habits and Buffalo made the Red Wings pay, defeating them 2-1.

Buffalo scored twice on the power play, powering it to the victory.

The Red Wings were scoreless on four power plays, including two in the third period on which they let the game drift away.

BOX SCORE: Sabres 2, Red Wings 1

“I don’t think it was any different in terms of execution, we created, we had pucks around the cage a little bit,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “Maybe we weren’t as good getting to those loose rebounds, we’ve been real good at that lately.

“But in the end we had chances, we have to score.”

The loss ended a modest two-game inning streak for the Red Wings (28-32-11).

Tomas Tatar, who has been red hot himself, scored the Red Wings goal.

Tatar scored his 21st goal, matching last season’s output. Tatar has scored six goals in his last six games, and nine in his last 14.

Jack Eichel and Matt Moulson had power-play goals for Buffalo (30-31-12) and goalie Robin Lehner stopped 34 shots.

But, oh, that Red Wings power play.

“They probably scouted us a little bit (on the power play),” Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg said. “(They) took away what had been working before. We had to adjust a little bit (and) we had a few more chances in the end.

“But when you have that many chances, you would like to see it at least go in.”

Eichel opened the scoring with his 21st goal.

With Mike Green in the box for hooking, Eichel one-timed a pass from Ryan O’Reilly from the top left circle and beat goaltender Petr Mrazek at 10:30.

The Sabres extended the lead on their first power play attempt of the second period, with Tatar off for tripping.

Moulson scored his 14th goal at 8:59, giving Buffalo what turned out to be an insurmountable two-goal lead.

“They won the specialty-team battle,” Zetterberg said. “We did better five-on-five, except for maybe the first (period). The second and third periods, we worked hard and created lots of chances.”

The Sabres appeared to be gaining momentum after taking the two-goal lead, and especially after killing their second Red Wings power play.

But shortly after the power play expired, Green skated the puck deep into the zone and fed Tatar at the corner of the crease for an easy tap-in at 12:53 of the second period.

Thirty of the Red Wings’ 35 shots came in the final 40 minutes, after a listless first period.

“Competition level and skating,” Blashill said was the difference. “I didn’t think we competed hard enough in the first, we didn’t skate enough and we were a step behind all over the ice.

“We answered the bell (in the final two periods) and started to win more battles.” @tkulfan