By Ashley Scoby
Start slapping a few extra minutes on the Red Wings’ allotted TV time, network execs.READ MORE: Amazon Scammers Stole Over $27M From Consumers In A Year
The Wings went to their fifth straight overtime game Tuesday, coming out on top against the Sabres via shootout, 5-4. It was the seventh time out of the past eight games that Detroit required extra time for a result, with its 2-1 regulation win over the Kings the lone exception.
Out of those seven OT games, Detroit has won four.
“It’s nice to win one in overtime,” said Justin Abdelkader, who scored two goals against Buffalo. “A few too many games in overtime of late, but we’ll take the points.”
Head coach Jeff Blashill joked that he wasn’t sure if Tuesday’s win was a sign of performing or choking.
“Is that giving the lead up or coming from behind?” he said, and it was a valid question. Detroit held a 3-1 lead in the second period, found itself down 4-3 early in the third and eventually came back in extra time for the win.
Abdelkader had the late game-tying heroics – slashing his stick back and forth in front of Buffalo’s defenders and darting one into the net with 6:29 left in regulation to make it 4-4 – before Brad Richards scored the game-winner during the penalty shootout.READ MORE: Supply Chain Issues: 'There Really Are Problems Everywhere,' Even For Small Companies
“Finding a way to win is big in this league,” said Drew Miller, who scored his first goal of the season in the second period to give the Wings that early 3-1 lead. “I think we’re learning that, and that’s big for our team.”
Tempers flared, and stayed hot, through the end of the second period. The Red Wings swarmed Evander Kane from every direction with 2:56 remaining, and the Wings collected two penalties from the brawl (for roughing on Henrik Zetterberg and Brendan Smith). Buffalo’s Zemgus Girgensons scored five seconds into the power play, pulling the Sabres to within 3-2.
Not even two minutes later, Abdelkader got involved again, this time exchanging shoves with Josh Gorges, ducking a few punches after losing his helmet, and taking Gorges horizontal to the ice. Detroit escaped the period without the Sabres taking advantage of their second power play, but still only held its slim 3-2 lead heading into the final period.
And Buffalo took advantage of Detroit’s thin cushion, tying it up within the first minute of the final period off another Kane shot. Less than three minutes later, Zach Bogosian slipped another through a tangle of legs near the goal line to give Buffalo its first lead.
Once the three-on-three overtime period started, Detroit found itself facing a flurry from Buffalo, who gained an extra man thanks to a tripping penalty on Gustav Nyquist. Shots flew from every direction, but Petr Mrazek held steady enough to take it to the shootout.
“I thought we dominated and had some good chances there throughout the game,” Abdelkader said. “I thought our penalty kill did a great job. In overtime it’s huge, and never easy to find a four-on-three.”
The Wings gave up a lead, its manpower advantage in overtime and 32 shots by the Sabres, but they didn’t give up the one result that mattered.MORE NEWS: Volvo Adds 195,000 Vehicles To Recall For Dangerous Air Bags
“We don’t want to give up leads, but that’s the nature of hockey sometimes,” Blashill said. “It’s gonna be in those spots. I want to continue to be in a spot where we have the lead. And I thought tonight obviously we got down in the game late; we haven’t been in that spot much, and we showed a lot of character coming back like that.”