Over the years Detroit Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard has absolutely owned the Buffalo Sabres. That dominance continued on Friday as the Red Wings topped the Sabres 3-1. With the loss, Buffalo has now dropped four games in a row and fall to an abysmal 5-10-4. Ryan O'Reilly scored the Sabres lone goal while Luke Glendening, Tomas Tatar and Dylan Larkin found the back of the net for the Red Wings.
Five observations from Friday's loss:
Need more goals
In three of the Sabres last four games Buffalo has only scored one goal. Not surprisingly, the Sabres lost all of those game and are have now lost four in a row.
If Buffalo is going to snap this losing streak they need to start giving their goaltender some help. Sure, they scored four goals on Tuesday in their loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins but spent almost the entire second half of the game chasing the defending Stanley Cup Champions.
You could certainly make the argument that players like Jack Eichel, Kyle Okposo and Sam Reinhart need to step up and that's true. But lack of scoring from the Sabres third and fourth line continues to be a major problem. If that wasn't bad enough, the Sabres still don't have a goal from a defenseman 19 games into the season.
Locked In Lehner
Despite taking the loss and allowing three goals, Robin Lehner was the Sabres best player against Detroit, bailing the Sabres out time and time again. While his stats might not jump off the score sheet, if it wasn't for Lehner this game wouldn't have been close.
Playing with fire
Entering Friday's game the Red Wings owned the fifth most efficient power play in the NHL. On Wednesday their man advantage dominance was on full display, converting on four power play attempts against the Calgary Flames.
Moral of the story -- Don't take penalties against the Red Wings.
Apparently the Sabres didn't get the memo but on Friday it didn't matter, as the Sabres killed off all five Detroit attempts. As a matter of fact, Buffalo actually had several solid chances while shorthanded, including a Jordan Nolan breakaway and a Benoit Pouliot shot that rang off the post.
At the end of the day, this might be the lone positive for the Sabres on Friday.
That was close
— Matthew Bové (@Matt_Bove) November 18, 2017
For as bad as Friday proved to be for the Sabres it was nearly a lot worse. With just seconds remaining in the second period Jack Eichel was taken down by Red Wings' forward Luke Glendening. After the play, Eichel slowly skated to the and went into the locker room for the remainder of the period.
After what was surely a long intermission for Sabres fans Eichel returned to the ice for the third period. Buffalo already has a hard time scoring goals, could you imagine how much they would struggle without their assistant captain?
Two big names return
To be clear, this isn't an observation from the Sabres game on Friday but it seemed like a pretty important update a lot of fans have been asking about. While the Sabres were in Detroit, their AHL affiliate was in action down the 90 as the Amerks hosted the Hartford Wolf Pack. For the first time this year, the Amerks were joined by Alex Nylander and Evan Rodrigues, who both suffered injuries prior to the start of this season.
Nylander, the Sabres 2016 first-round pick, suffered a lower-body injury during the Prospects Challenge in the summer. What was originally believed to be day-to-day lingered for more than two months. After a lengthy absence, Nylander returned to practice earlier in the week before making his debut. In the second period against Hartford Nylander tallied his first point of the season, picking up an assist on CJ Smith's fourth goal of the year.
It was also Rodrigues' first game of the season after suffering a hand injury with the Sabres during the preseason. According to Paul Hamilton of WGR 550, Rodrigues was cleared to play just hours before Rochester's game, which is why there wasn't an announcement made that he was sent to Rochester or playing on Friday.