The Detroit Red Wings’ point streak is over after 13 consecutive games without a regulation loss. The team was poised to extend the streak, but allowed two late third period goals in 1:01 to the Buffalo Sabres on Monday night.
The streak began on November 16th and lasted nearly a full month. In that time period the Wings went to overtime ten times. This helped propel the team to second in the Atlantic Division behind only Montreal. The Habs are slipping however, due to the injury to star netminder Carey Price.
At 16-9-6, the goal-differential is even at 79 for and 79 against. Only the Arizona Coyotes of the weak Pacific Division are behind them of the teams in playoff position (-14).
The next time they’ll have to face a team that has more points in the standings (assuming the current status of 38 points) is January 11 against the Los Angeles Kings.
In addition, the home-heavy month of December continues with four of the next seven contests taking place at Joe Louis Arena. Detroit’s home record was sub-par at the beginning of this season, but has now improved to a respectable 10-6-3.
Each team had a small handful of quality scoring chances in the opening stanza, with Detroit’s best chance coming on a Henrik Zetterberg one-timer in the slot. Both Chad Johnson and Petr Mrazek were up to the task.
Defenseman Brendan Smith was called for a high-sticking minor with one second left in the first. Halfway through the ensuing power play in the second period, Darren Helm outskated both Sabres defensemen to reach the puck, but Johnson, anticipating a potential free shot left his net to break up the play with a diving effort. Helm retrieved the puck with Johnson still away from the net but could not get a handle on the empty net opportunity.
Four minutes into the middle frame, Pavel Datsyuk set veteran forward Brad Richards up with a one-timer. Richards dropped to a knee a la Brett Hull to fire the shot past Johnson for the 1-0 lead.
With five to play in the second period Tomas Jurco was the recipient of a rare penalty shot. He chose the slow approach but finished with a low shot that was easily snagged by the glove of Johnson.
Mrazek had made 26 saves until the 15:46 mark of the third period. Buffalo won the offensive zone faceoff, the puck came back to the blueline, Sam Reinhart directed it toward the net and it was deflected through the five-hole by Ryan O’Reilly.
After the Wings failed to clear the puck out of the zone, it was kept in by defenseman Mike Weber before forward Johan Larsson had a clear shot in the slot to make it 2-1. Detroit coach Jeff Blashill challenged the play on the grounds of a potential offsides, but the goal would stand.
Detroit would press hard following the pair of goals and the game was nearly tied in the final seconds if not for an outstanding diving glove save by Johnson which robbed Gustav Nyquist of a goal.
The four-game homestand continues Friday, as Detroit looks to rebound against the Vancouver Canucks.