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'We need a win bad': Sabres shut out Wings, losing skid hits seven games

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News
Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard (35) stops a shot by Sabres left wing Johan Larsson (22) in the first period on Friday.

Detroit — With the way things are going for the Red Wings, you're looking for any small positive.

Anything to see progress and development and a sign they’re getting out of this losing streak.

Friday, well, it was the fact they didn’t allow five goals for a change. They cut that number all the way down to two, though it wasn't enough as they lost to Buffalo, 2-0.

BOX SCORE: Sabres 2, Red Wings 0

The Wings also liked the way they limited Buffalo’s scoring chances, only seven, while generating 21 scoring chances themselves.

Defensively, the Wings were significantly better than most of the other times during this losing streak.

But, in the end, that’s seven consecutive losses now for the Wings.

“We talked about making sure getting back to being process orientated, we got away from that in Ottawa (Thursday),” coach Jeff Blashill said. “We gave up tons of chances in that game. Here tonight, we gave up seven. You play that game 10 times, you win nine of them. If it hadn’t been for the fact we’ve lost all these games in a row, it would be easier to move on.

“But when you’ve lost a bunch in a row, you’re going to have great mental toughness. I told our guys you keep playing these types of games, you’re going to win a lot of games.”

But, that losing streak. Yes, the Red Wings have now lost seven consecutive games — with Stanley Cup champion St. Louis coming in Sunday. The Red Wings fell to 3-8-0 on the season.

“We need a win bad,” forward Dylan Larkin said. “We need to get our confidence back as a team. We need to get two points and grind out a win and pick up from there. We need it in the worst way.

‘We need to figure it out, or it’s going to get ugly.”

Larkin is one of a long list of Red Wings struggling offensively. Larkin doesn’t have a point in five games. Andreas Athanasiou hasn’t scored a goal in all his nine games, and Valtteri Filppula, Frans Nielsen and Taro Hirose are all looking for their first goals, as well.

Even Anthony Mantha has cooled off with only one goal in his last six games.

“We have to score. We haven’t scored in this stretch and myself, offensively, I haven’t been good enough,” Larkin said. “If you want to point fingers, point them right at me. I have to be way better for this team and carry the load up front and put the puck in the net.”

Jake McCabe and Sam Reinhart (power play) scored for the Sabres and Jack Eichel assisted on both goals. Goalie Linus Ullmark stopped all 41 shots he saw, as the Wings outshot Buffalo 41-25.

The Wings mixed some lines, shifting Mantha onto the second line with Filppula and struggling Athanasiou (no goals in nine games) and Darren Helm taking Mantha’s spot on Larkin’s line.

Givani Smith, promoted from Grand Rapids, took a spot on the fourth line.

But the juggling only worked so much.

“Trading chances, we’re not going to win that way,” Blashill said. “We’re going to have to win by being efficient and give up very few chances and be in tight games and try to find a way to score goals. That’s how we won (at the start of the season), by limiting other teams’ chances and finding a way to score.

“If we played this game 10 times, we’re going to win nine of them. We have to stay with it.”

The Sabres have won four consecutive games at Little Caesars Arena, and have won eight of their last 11 games against the Wings overall.

Twitter: @tkulfan