Although the Buffalo Sabres were coming off a rough loss to the New York Rangers the night prior, they still had the upper hand heading into Friday night’s game against the Detroit Red Wings. The Red Wings, who had started off the season on a high note, were on a six-game losing streak entering Friday’s tilt.
Still, none of that mattered once the puck hit the ice. The Sabres had a rough first period. They were doubled in shots, 12-6, lost 75 percent of the face-offs, and looked like a team playing the second half of a back-to-back and third game in four nights. Linus Ullmark was the difference-maker in net, and a huge part of why Buffalo luckily escaped the opening twenty minutes unscathed.
Defenseman Jake McCabe didn’t play a shift in the second half of the first period, but did return - with stitches - for the second period. It’s a good thing, too, as he would open the scoring for Buffalo later in the middle frame.
McCabe’s wrist shot found the back of the net to make it 1-0.
Although the second period wasn’t perfect, it was a significant improvement from the first for the Sabres. They outshot the Red Wings, and Eichel’s work on McCabe’s goal was impressive; he was eventually awarded an assist on the play.
Buffalo built on that second period by scoring early in the third period to make it 2-0. Victor Olofsson put the shot on net, and Sam Reinhart came in with the sneaky redirect to get it past a clueless Jimmy Howard. Once again, Eichel recorded an assist.
Ullmark continued to be a difference-maker in the third period, particularly as the Red Wings put a lot of pressure on late in the game. The team largely played the final stanza on the defensive, just looking to hold onto the 2-0 lead - which they did, in the end.
The Sabres have now recorded only two losses this season, both of which were immediately followed by shutouts. Friday’s win was Ullmark’s third career shutout, a 38-save effort.
John Gilmour made his season debut on Friday night for the Sabres, and his play in the win proved why putting him into the lineup was the right call. Gilmour showcased his speed, particularly in getting back into the play, and was a worthwhile addition to the lineup.
Evan Rodrigues also found his way back into the lineup, providing a boost to his linemates in Casey Mittelstadt and Conor Sheary. Rodrigues recorded four shots on goal.
The Sabres also shook up their defensive pairings for Friday’s game; McCabe was paired off with Rasmus Ristolainen, while Gilmour found himself alongside Colin Miller. The final pairing was Rasmus Dahlin and Henri Jokiharju.
After playing three games in four nights, the Sabres now have a couple days off. They’ll return to the ice to host the Arizona Coyotes on Monday night. then hit the road to face the Washington Capitals on Friday, November 1.