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WINGS POST-GAME: LARKIN > EICHEL

Coming off a fiery 8-2 victory Wednesday night, the Red Wings looked to build off of their goal scoring momentum in tonight’s match-up against the Buffalo Sabres. The last time these two teams met was almost a month ago. Robin Lehner and the Sabres shut the Wings out 1-0 in one of the most boring games of the season so far. A victory tonight would mean the Wings widen the gap between their division rival. It also would mean they jump over the Senators for third place in the Atlantic Division. Let’s see how they fared.

THE RUNDOWN

In a fairly even first period, the Red Wings outshot the Sabres 8-6 and it ended scoreless. Both teams killed off a penalty in what was one of the more boring periods of hockey we’ve seen this year.

The real fun started in the second period. Almost three minutes in, Jordan Nolan boarded Nick Jensen from behind. He’d get a penalty for it. Then, less than two minutes later, Evander Kane cross-checked Niklas Kronwall, giving the Red Wings a 5-on-3 for a little over a minute. The Wings failed to convert on both chances, but it wouldn’t be the last. One more powerplay yielded the same result. Detroit was getting shots off, but having a hard time converting on the powerplay.

In the final minute of the period, Darren Helm found Luke Glendening in the slot and Robin Lehner made a huge save on him. Luckily, Glendening is all about second chances and he whacked the puck into the net to put the Wings up 1-0.

Before the period ended, Darren Helm would take an interference penalty on Jack Eichel and the Sabres would start the third on the powerplay.

Detroit managed to kill off the penalty and got another powerplay opportunity when Nolan was called on a very weak holding call against Andreas Athanasiou. Again, Detroit dominated with the man advantage, but they couldn’t steal one from Lehner. He was turning everything away. Things took a dark turn when Ryan O’Reilly buried a rebound past Jimmy Howard 5:50 into the period. It was a sketchy call that Jeff Blashill challenged for goalie interference, as Kyle Okposo’s skate dragged Howard’s pad away from the play. Unfortunately, the goal was upheld and the game would continue tied.

Detroit wasn’t about to let Buffalo build any more momentum, though. Only three minutes later, Tomas Tatar fired a wrist shot through traffic and beat Robin Lehner. It was a sigh of relief for all of us that were preparing for overtime and for Tatar who has been struggling with scoring goals this year.

Detroit would add one final goal in the final five minutes of play from Dylan Larkin, who had been on fire all game. Xavier Ouellet fired an odd-angled shot on net which rebound into the slot where Larkin was driving in with his stick on the ice. He had no issue driving the puck home to seal the deal for the Red Wings. The final score was 3-1.

THE STATS

Detroit outshot Buffalo in every period of the game. The final shot tally was 33-20.

At 5v5, as the above graph from Corsica shows, the first period shot attempts were fairly even, but Detroit really took over in the second and third periods. This started with their man advantage in the second. Though they didn’t score, they built energy and momentum that carried through to their 5v5 play. They dominated the Sabres in a solid, definitive victory. It was the second game in a row that they were the better team on the ice.

MOTOR CITY MVP

Tonight’s Motor City MVP is none other than “D-Boss” Dylan Larkin. In addition to his goal, Larkin was responsible for seven shot attempts (most on the team) and four shots on net (second on the team). He showed some fire when Jensen was boarded from behind, was a key part for the Red Wings three penalty kills, and helped build the momentum in powerplay situations. He also led all team forwards in time on ice.

NEXT UP

Detroit gets a day of rest tomorrow before hosting the Colorado Avalanche on Sunday evening. Colorado should be an easy two points, but the Wings don’t always show up for these games. After tonight’s game, they have won two in a row and have points in their last three games. They need to continue to build on this if they want to set themselves apart in the standings. Ottawa, Montreal, and Boston are not far behind.

Game time is 6:00 PM ET on Sunday and you can watch on Fox Sports Detroit or ALT if you’re in the Denver area. As always, Brock Seguin will have the pre-game report early in the afternoon on Sunday. Stay tuned to WingsNation.com.