Red Wings defenseman addresses team's sluggish start. Ted Kulfan
Detroit — The Red Wings have talked the past few days about not quitting on the season and playing desperate hockey while getting into the playoff chase.
The talk is good, but the actions didn’t really show until late, as the Red Wings managed one point in a 3-2 overtime loss to Buffalo on Thursday at Little Caesars Arena.
Sabres defenseman Marco Scandella scored with one second left in overtime, giving Buffalo the dramatic victory.
“Very, very frustrating,” said defenseman Jonathan Ericsson, who scored a goal in the gut-wrenching defeat. “We had good chances (in overtime) and they made big save. Howie (goaltender Jimmy Howard) made a huge save for us (on a 3-on-1 Buffalo rush).
“It’s just the way it goes right now. We had good chances to close the game, but somehow they found a way to win.”
The Red Wings extended the game into overtime when Justin Abdelkader tied it 2-2 with a power-play goal at 18 minutes, 35 seconds of the third period.
Abdelkader tapped in a loose puck in the crease for his 10th goal, giving the Red Wings at least one point against the worst team in the Eastern Conference.
Considering how the Red Wings came out in the opening 20 minutes, with another lackluster start, finding a way to at least earning one point was a positive outcome.
“We came and were outshooting them, and they scored, and we melted,” said coach Jeff Blashill of the first period. “The first period, we weren’t good. I’m not sure why. Things are going OK, and they score and just for whatever reason, it seemed we didn’t have much going on after that.”
Gradually, the Red Wings got into the game and fought through a Buffalo team that clogged the neutral zone and made things difficult.
“The battle level in the last two (periods),” said captain Henrik Zetterberg about what he liked from his team. “Tough goals against, but we kept fighting all the way to the end.”
The Red Wings (24-26-10 58 points) have lost four of five games (1-3-1), not exactly the way to roar into a playoff run.
“It’s frustrating to let one big point slip away,” Ericsson said. “It’s not a team we’re chasing, but it’s still a point slipping away we can’t afford. We have to get two points every night.”
It was only the second win in the last six games for Buffalo (18-32-11, 47 points), which got goals from Rasmus Ristolainen and Evander Kane (power play).
Kane scored on a wraparound goal at 13:09 of the second period, breaking a 1-1 tie.
Kane, who’ll be one of the most-sought-after rentals before Monday’s deadline, carried the puck behind the net, and tucked it just inside the goal post and Howard’s left leg, for his 20th goal.
Red Wings coach talks about team's play after Sabres' Rasmus Ristolainen scored. Ted Kulfan
The Red Wings challenged for goalie interference — Buffalo’s Jason Pominville was clearly in the crease — but the goal stood.
Much to the amazement of Howard and Blashill, as goalie interference, or lack of it, again burned the Red Wings.
Red Wings coach addresses team's performance in opening 20 minutes of 3-2 overtime loss to the Sabres. Ted Kulfan
“I thought we’d win that challenge,” Blashill said. “Hockey operations at the NHL had done an unreal job the first part of the year of making a gray rule (goalie interference) black and white as they could. It was an unreal job.
“Basically if you went into the blue on your own and you made contact with the goaltender and kept him from playing his position, it was going to get called back.
“Then there was a meeting at the NHL All-Star Game, where there was a feeling too many goals were being called back.
“Now we’re back to an ultra gray area. Pominville had no reason to go into the crease. Zero. He went on his own (into the crease) and didn’t allow our guy to play the position and kept our guy from making the save. I don’t know what goalie interference is, if that’s not goalie interference.”
Howard was equally perplexed.
“No idea what goalie interference is anymore in this league,” Howard said. “On a wraparound, you lead with your stick and hope to cut that off. That was taken away (by Pominville).”