While you could have reasonably come into this game expecting the Detroit Red Wings to easily overpower the Buffalo Sabres, you can never be too sure of anything in the modern NHL. Even the bad teams aren’t that much worse than the good ones, and a hot goalie can get you a long way. Brian Elliott the other night was an example of the latter, though admittedly, the Blues were a better team.
For a while, it looked like Robin Lehner may have been set to do the same. Thankfully, the Wings saved their best offensive moments for the very end, feasting on a seen opportunity and turning it into a 3-0 win.
The first two periods weren’t really much to phone home about. The Wings had a couple of powerplays in the first period that amounted to nothing worth phoning home about, and for the back half of the period and the entirety of the second, it was a low risk game of chess with Lehner and Petr Mrazek getting in the way of any of the slightly fruitful opportunities.
Things started to turn around in the third period when Marcus Foligno got his stuck up in Dylan Larkin’s face. He made his nose bleed a fair bit, and at one point, it was assumed that it removed a tooth from his mouth as well (though that wasn’t the case). Larkin drew a double minor from the incident, and while the Wings (once again) didn’t capitalise, the victim became the hero 40 seconds later. While his first opportunity was stopped by Lehner, he spun around the net, grabbed a missed rebound by Luke Glendening, and turned it into a goal. The Sabres challenged the goal as offside but weren’t successful.
Unaware that the Sabres were basically going to fall asleep at the wheel for the rest of the game, Detroit went out looking for more. Larkin was involved once again, this time dishing a laser of a pass to Henrik Zetterberg.
Captain Z swerved around a sprawling Lehner to tuck it home and put the Wings up by two with less than three minutes to go. For good measure, Glendening tossed the puck into an empty net in the closing seconds to give the Wings a final score that more accurately matched the 45-19 shot count.
Why The Wings Won
Do you really need to know more? I’m still wondering if the Sabres just straight up let the Wings win in the third period. Their last shot on goal came seven minutes before Larkin scored. With a quarter of the game remaining.
The Dylan Larkin Hat Trick: One goal, one assist, and one chipped tooth. pic.twitter.com/zCLxQVcd8x
— Brad Galli (@BradGalli) January 23, 2016
Larkin also had a 57.9% Corsi For on the night; dominant on most occasions, but on a night where the attempts are 76-46, it’s pretty pedestrian. That doesn’t matter, though; with a game-winning goal, a gorgeous assist, and a bit of facial reconstruction, the boy has officially become the man.
See You Next Time
Don’t go too far! The Wings play again in less than 24 hours from now. The team heads back to the Joe to take on the Anaheim Ducks, who had their game against the Capitals moved up a few hours in hopes of beating the massive snow storm headed in the direction of Washington DC. Puck drop is at 7:00 PM.