Red Wings-Sabres Preview
One of the rare occasions over the last three-plus weeks that the Detroit Red Wings didn't have trouble scoring came against the Buffalo Sabres.
That's usually the case when these teams meet, and the Red Wings will try to break out of their latest offensive funk Friday night in western New York.
Among the Eastern Conference's lowest-scoring teams at 2.41 goals per game, Detroit (23-15-8) has totaled 20 in its last 11. The Red Wings, though, are 5-5-1 in that span partly because they've yielded 11 non-shootout goals over the last seven contests.
"You can't feel sorry for yourself," said veteran forward Brad Richards, who has gone six games without a point. "It's hard to score in this league right now ... you keep plugging and believe it will go our way and stay our way if we keep doing the right things."
Detroit is coming off consecutive 2-1 home losses - to Philadelphia in a shootout Sunday and three days later to St. Louis - but first-year Detroit coach Jeff Blashill felt his team made strides by recording 30 shots in each. It hadn't done that in the previous six games.
"We don't have to make vast changes to the way we play,'' Blashill said. "You have to take the emotion out of it - it is frustrating when you don't score, but our processes are fine.''
His club has scored more than two goals twice in the last 11 games, highlighted by a 4-3 win at Buffalo on Jan. 2 which made the Red Wings 6-0-1 in its last seven visits.
Detroit has scored nine regulation goals while going 2-1-0 against the Sabres this season. The Red Wings have averaged 3.6 goals while winning 28 times in the past 34 meetings, earning at least one point in all but three.
Tomas Tatar has seven goals and two assists in the last seven games against Buffalo (19-24-4), but it's uncertain if he'll be available after being scratched Wednesday because of the flu. Detroit also announced veteran defenseman Niklas Kronwall, a key figure on the power play, could miss up to a month after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery.
The Sabres fell 2-1 at Colorado on Wednesday, their second defeat in six games since losing a season-high six in a row. Buffalo has scored 23 times in that 12-game span - nine on the power play - and rank near the bottom of the league with an average of 2.28 goals.
Evander Kane scored with the man advantage, but the Avalanche rallied for two goals in the third period.
"We have to win those games," Kane told the Sabres' official website. "Those are big points we just lost. That's unfortunate but now we have to look ahead and look forward to Detroit."
Kane has five points during the current 4-2-0 stretch after having none during the six-game skid. He scored twice in a 5-4 shootout loss at Detroit on Dec. 1, but hasn't recorded a point in the two meetings since.
Buffalo has killed all 15 penalties in the last five contests but has let Detroit go 9 for 20 on the power play in the past six meetings.
Detroit's Petr Mrazek has made three straight starts and owns a 1.15 goals-against average in his last six. He's posted a 2.96 GAA while starting all three against the Sabres this season.