The Buffalo Sabres (13-11-1) just can’t get going in the first period. The Detroit Red Wings (16-7-1) found themselves up 3-0 with five minutes left to go in the first period. Jakub Kindl scored his first goal of the season to get the Red Wings on the board mid-way through the first period. Johan Franzen added a power play goal five minutes later. Then Valtteri Fippula scored a minute later to give the Red Wings their 3-0 lead.
And that was really all she wrote. The Sabres actually played pretty good hockey in the second and third periods, only giving up an empty net goal at the end of the third period. But it just wasn’t enough to overcome such a slow start. Once again, the Sabres were out-shot badly in the first period 18 to 8. Then then settled down to allow the Red Wings only nine shots in both the second and third periods while the Sabres recorded nine shots in the second and eleven shots in the third.
Jimmy Howard was outstanding for the Red Wings, stopping 27 of the 28 shots he faced, included several spectacular saves. Howard did an excellent job of limiting rebounds and second-chance opportunities for Buffalo. Jhonas Enroth (32 saves on 35 shots) once again acquitted himself well, but just couldn’t survive giving up the early goals. Ryan Miller is expected to start for Buffalo on Saturday night, but don’t be surprised if Enroth has earned some consistent starts going forward.
Jochen Hecht added the lone goal for the Sabres in the third period, assisted by Jason Pominville and Ville Leino. That give Hecht a goal in each of the Sabres last three games. Tyler Ennis and Patrick Kaleta both returned from injuries for the Sabres. But of course, Kaleta suffered a lower-body injury in the second period and did not return. Nathan Gerbe was clipped in the face in the third period and will definitely need stitches. He’s considered day-to-day.
The Sabres have little time to lick their wounds as they are right back in action Saturday night when they travel to Nashville to face the Predators. Ryan Miller is tentatively expected to start in goal for the Sabres. It would be his first start since being injured against the Bruins on November 12th.