5 Observations: Red Wings top Sabres 2-1 in SO

5 Observations: Red Wings top Sabres 2-1 in SO
Posted at 10:59 PM, Nov 23, 2016

Wednesday the Detroit Red Wings snapped their four game losing streak, knocking off the Buffalo Sabres 2-1 in a shootout. Buffalo out-shot Detroit 33-24, but couldn't capitalize on several scoring chances.

Five observations from Wednesday's loss:

Missed opportunities

In the first period the Detroit Red Wings looked like a team that had lost four straight, but the Sabres couldn’t take advantage of Detroit’s mistakes. For the Red Wings, it was turnover after turnover. For the Sabres, it was missed chance after missed chance.

Sabres forward Marcus Foligno had two breakaways because of Detroit turnovers, but couldn’t capitalize on either. Then, Johan Larsson got robbed from the slot by a gorgeous Jimmy Howard glove save on a shot you would like to see go in.

Things didn’t get better for the Sabres as the game continued. In the third period with about three minutes left, Matt Moulson hit the outside of the post from a weird angle on an open net. Moulson then threw that puck back in front of the net where it hit a defender, deflecting into the post just inches away from crossing the line.
In overtime the Sabres were all over the Red Wings and came close to scoring the game winner, but just couldn’t. At the end of the night the Sabres hit four posts and finished with 33 shots – but once again only scored one goal.

Lehner’s shootout struggles continue

During regulation and overtime Sabres goaltender Robin Lehner played a solid game, stopping 25 of the 26 shots he faced. He’s been solid almost all year during regulation and overtime, but has really struggled in shootouts. Those woes continued Wednesday, allowing two goals on two attempts.

“We could’ve won in a shootout but I’m not making those saves right now,” Lehner told reporters after the game.

Lehner admitted that he’s struggled in shootouts and said he’s been spending a lot of time working on them in practice, but it’s just not working.

“(I’m) not in the zone for shootouts right now," Lehner added. "In practice I’m making the saves but in games I’m not.”

Overall, Lehner had a solid game – but he needs to be better in shootouts soon, because it’s not like the Sabres shooters are bailing him out. 

Ahh, Thomas Vanek

It was a vintage Thomas Vanek night on Wednesday and boy was it fun to watch. Things started a little rocky for Vanek. Late in the first period the former Sabre took a double-minor hooking and unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. The Red Wings killed off the penalty and after that Vanek went into his zone.

In the second period Vanek dished out a beautiful spin-o-rama pass to Gustav Nyquist on a 2-on-1 to give the Red Wings a 1-0 lead. Vanek continued to create chances and made some nice plays in the third period but really shined in the shootout. Vanek skated in slow and busted out the ole ‘around the world’ move that he started doing while playing in Buffalo. It was a move Sabres fans have seen multiple times and it almost always worked. Vanek now has eight points in eight games and is proving to still have some gas left in the tank.

O’Reilly makes such a difference

I understand he didn’t score, but once again Ryan O’Reilly proved to be one of the Sabres best players. The shift that stands out to me more than any was his second overtime shift, when he forced two turnovers in the Detroit end that both led to quality chances. Earlier in the game we were reminded of O’Reilly dominance with a beautiful toe-drag that also led to chance.

“He was kind of just where you want him to be at the end of the game with his puck on the stick,” Sabres Head Coach Dan Bylsma said. “He was awesome” added Bylsma, but did say O’Reilly got caught on a couple long shifts that could’ve cost the team, but didn’t.

Some consistency please 

In the first period one puck actually found the back of Detroit’s net, but was disallowed because of an early whistle. Johan Larsson, who had already been denied by Howard in the period, was camped out front while the Sabres were applying pressure. Larsson fired a shot from just outside the crease, but it was stopped by Howard. Larsson then cleaned up his rebound and slid the puck into the net.

This is a judgement call – but I absolutely think the referee blew the whistle too early. Okay, that kind of thing happens all the time, I totally understand that – but why wasn’t this instance looked at like what happened earlier in the year in Calgary? During that game referees deemed that the whistle had blown too early and then allowed a goal that had been previously waived off. Either always look at an early whistle or never look at it, but I’ll get off my soap box now.

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