The Detroit Red Wings finished off its preseason with a matinee contest against the Buffalo Sabres. It would be the final tune up and audition for many players vying to stay with the big club before the season starts on Thursday.
The Red Wings fell 3-1 in their preseason finale to Buffalo, and now the attention shifts to the roster decisions head coach Jeff Blashill will make.
The first ten minutes didn’t see any scoring, but it was Buffalo that carried the offensive action as they peppered Wings netminder Alex Nedeljkovic early. Detroit would head off to a penalty at the middle point of the period. The Red Wings would kill it off but would be chasing Buffalo chances for the rest of the period. Timely goaltending from Nedeljkovic and stellar defense kept the Sabres off the scoresheet.
Chances were few for the Red Wings and often found the puck deep in their own zone, with the Sabres getting chance after chance. They were able to escape the first period with a scoreless tie.
The second period was much of the same and saw Buffalo break through on a Tage Thompson shot that got through because of a screen in front of Ned, giving the Sabres a 1-0 lead. Bobby Ryan had a nice chance in front of the shot was sent aside by Buffalo’s Craig Anderson.
The middle period felt like a mirror image of the first, with Detroit chasing most of the period, generating few chances, and seeing little in the way of offensive help. But the Red Wings answered when Mitchell Stephens burned past a Sabres defenseman, snagged the puck, and centered it to a waiting Sam Gagner in the slot, who buried a goal to even the game up at one.
The Red Wings even got a power play opportunity late in the period, but Nedeljkovic made a baffling play to try and make a quick pass across ice to Filip Zadina to catch Buffalo by surprise…but it backfired. The puck ricocheted off Seider’s stick, and to a waiting Zemgus Girgensons, who capitalized, waited carefully, and then buried it to give the Sabres a 2-1 lead.
The Red Wings had a few more chances and pressed a bit in the third period but couldn’t find the equalizer. It was a pretty listless third period, and felt like a careful period of hockey where neither team was going to push too hard and risk anything with the regular season just days away. The Sabres got an empty net goal late and sealed it off, 3-1.
Let the final roster decisions begin.