Sabres Fall to Red Wings 4-3

Eichel has a great game, but Johnson struggles.

The crowd was very quiet through the first period of play.  They could have just been numbed by all the food that they surely ate over two consecutive holiday weekends, or perhaps Buffalo fans just haven't had that much to cheer about as the Sabres came into this afternoon's matchup versus the Detroit Red Wings 8-11-2 at home.  I heard a comment from one fan that the crowd basically just perks up when Jack Eichel gets the puck and then goes back into hibernation when his possession is over.

The crowd certainly had little to cheer about in the 1st period.  The Sabres lacked energy and the offense simply looked disjointed.  Matt Moulson was taken by such surprise on a pass from Evander Kane that he completely missed the puck.  Twice, pucks were shot around behind the Detroit goal and were simply collected by Red Wings’ players because no Sabre was in position on the far boards.  The Red Wings scored the first goal on a 2-on-1 rush.  Mike Weber was in fairly good position defending, forcing the pass and shot to happen out between the circles.  Brad Richards didn’t get the entire puck on the one-timer, but Chad Johnson was unable to catch the fluttering puck on his glove side.

Fortunately, Jack Eichel gave fans something to stand for in the 2nd period.  After Detroit scored on a Riley Sheahan wrist shot through traffic, the Sabres needed to get something going.  It started with a stinging wrist shot from Eichel as he drifted in from the top of the right circle.  He picked his corner and put the puck inside the far post through traffic to score on the power-play and bring the Sabres within one point.  Just three minutes later, he would tie the game.  As Zemus Girgensons was engaged near the boards, Pavel Datsyuk turned to defend as the puck came loose and he tripped over Girgensons’ skate leaving Jack Eichel to take on Detroit goaltender Petr Mrazek on the breakaway.  Eichel jammed it through Mrazek’s skate just inside the right post, giving the Sabres some needed energy.

Tomas Tatar celebrates his 3rd-Period goal.

Tomas Tatar celebrates his 3rd-Period goal.

That energy carried over into the 3rd period.  After Henrik Zetterberg capitalized on a Chad Johnson rebound, the Sabres responded, albeit with some help from Detroit’s Mike Green, who hooked Girgensons, then cross-checked Jake McCabe eleven seconds after coming out of the penalty box to give Buffalo back-to-back power plays.  On the second power play, Sam Reinhart tapped home a loose puck in the aftermath of a rebound to tie the game.  Despite a good final push from the Sabres including a shot from Evander Kane that hit the post, it would be Detroit that would have the last word as Tomas Tarter drifted in on the ensuing possession and wristed a shot past Johnson from near the top of the zone with no traffic.  It was one that Johnson would probably like to have back.

Unfortunately, the Sabres wasted some of their best offense of the season to start the New Year with another loss at home.  Jack Eichel now has 11 points in 7 games, but the Sabres fall to 15-20-4 and 8-12-2 at home.  The Sabres next play on January 5th at home versus the Florida Panthers (21-12-4).