Red Wings stay hot at home, rattle Sabres
Detroit — The Red Wings wanted to take advantage of this long homestand — and thus far, they’re doing just fine.
Tomas Tatar and Dylan Larkin scored third-period goals Friday, leading the Red Wings to a 3-1 victory over the Buffalo Sabres.
Goalie Jimmy Howard stopped 19 shots, as the Red Wings (10-8-2) earned points for a third consecutive game in this stretch of 13 of 15 games at Little Caesars Arena.
“That’s kind of something we learned last year, these home games are real important,” Tatar said of a team that managed only a 17-17-7 record at home last season. “These home games are real important. There’s a lot of (home games) ahead of us and we need to win a lot of them.
“The NHL is so tough to win on the road, so these home games are real important.”
The Red Wings had many chances to get a comfortable lead early Friday, but couldn’t convert.
And when Ryan O’Reilly tied it at 1 for Buffalo (5-10-4) at 5:50 of the third period, it extended the evening's frustration.
But the Red Wings stayed patient, and ultimately, it paid off.
“It feels like my first year when we were finding ways to win,” said Larkin, arguably the Red Wings’ best player Friday. “Last year it seems like things just were going against us and that’s the way it was.
“But this year we aren’t waiting for it to happen. We’re going out in the third period and finishing the job.”
Tatar gathered the puck near the top of the circles midway in the third period and took a few strides to give himself a better angle.
With Justin Abdelkader providing a screen, Tatar snapped a shot that cleanly beat goalie Robin Lehner, Tatar’s fifth goal, giving the Red Wings a 2-1 lead at 8:36.
“I got the puck in the middle and saw there was only guy fronting me,” Tatar said. “I took my time and tried to control it. I’m guessing it was Abby standing (in front) and he (Lehner) probably didn’t see much.”
Larkin extended the lead to 3-1 at 15:54 with his fourth goal, putting back a long rebound by Lehner.
The Red Wings are 4-1-1 over their last six games.
“We talked after the Vancouver game (an ugly loss in Oct. 22) about not letting this happen again and making sure we don’t get pushed around,” Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. “We can determine what happens to us.”
Luke Glendening capped a frustrating second period for the Red Wings with a hard-earned goal with 55 seconds left.
Darren Helm gained control of the puck behind the net, outworking a pair of Sabres.
Helm skated out front and was stopped by goalie Robin Lehner but the rebound went to Glendening, who backhanded the puck past Lehner while getting crosschecked onto the ice.
For Glendening, known more for his tenacity and diligent hard work, it was his fifth goal of the season — a good offensive start for one of many Red Wings who saw their offensive numbers dip last season.
The Red Wings outshot Buffalo 13-4, had three power plays including a 27-second 5-on-3 advantage, but until Glendening's goal had nothing to show for it.
“A lot of nothing happened tonight and a lot of back and forth,” Larkin said. “We had some good chances and Lehner played well. We could have got frustrated but we didn’t and it paid off with the two goals late.”