Red Wings-Sabres wrap-up: buzzer-beater plus disputed goal equals frustrated Wings

The Detroit Red Wings lost a 3-2 OT decision to the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday night, with the Wings dropping to 0-2-and-1 over their last 3 thanks to a Marco Scandella goal with 0.3 left in overtime.

This was a particularly frustrating loss for the Wings, who fired 70 shots at or near Robin Lehner, but found 23 attempts blocked by a tremendous shot-blocking Sabres defense.

Evander Kane’s 2-1 goal was of particular consternation to the Wings, because Jason Pominville skated into Jimmy Howard’s crease of his own accord and checked Howard’s stick, preventing the Wings’ goaltender from poke-checking away Kane’s wraparound…

But the call on the ice stood, and the Sabres told the Buffalo News’s John Vogl that “the right call was made“:

Detroit coach Jeff Blashill felt Pominville prevented Jimmy Howard from getting to the post before Kane, so he issued a coach’s challenge for goaltender interference. After a long look by the officials, it was denied.

“After reviewing all available replays and consulting with NHL Hockey Operations staff, the referee confirmed that the position of Buffalo’s Pominville did not by itself impact Howard’s ability to play his position in the crease and therefore no goaltender interference infractions occurred,” the NHL Situation Room said.

Kane is still ticked the NHL erased his late goal in Montreal in November via review, so he knew full well he shouldn’t celebrate until he heard the confirmation.

“I was a little nervous how long it was taking to review,” he said. “Pommer was there, and I think he was just saying hi. I don’t think he touched him. Nice call. The right call.”

As Vogl noted, the Sabres chose to play Kane and the rest of their possible trade deadline pieces, and that decision paid off in spades:

After the Buffalo Sabres allowed the tying goal with 1:25 left in regulation, defenseman Marco Scandella turned the tables on the Detroit Red Wings. He scored with 0.2 seconds to play in overtime, delivering a 3-2 victory during an exhilarating three-on-three session.

“Wow,” Sabres coach Phil Housley said in Little Caesars Arena. “That overtime was pretty interesting, to say the least.”

The players poured off the bench when Scandella found the net, then celebrated on their way to the dressing room when a replay showed the puck crossing the goal line just before the clock struck zero.

“I was wondering if it was good,” Scandella said. “I kind of saw through my peripherals the light going on after, but I wasn’t sure. It was a fun game for us. It’s a building block for our team, and it’s a great feeling.”

Among Vogl’s game notes

Busy man: Lehner faced 15 shots during the second period, turning aside 14 to give Buffalo a 2-1 lead heading into the third.

Padding the stats: With a two-point night, Ristolainen has six goals and 20 points in his last 24 games. It was his sixth multipoint game of the season.

Scout watch: For the second time in a week, the New Jersey Devils had two people watching a Sabres game, including Assistant GM Tom Fitzgerald. As usual, the Winnipeg Jets had a pro scout on the attendance list.’s Dave Hogg’s recap noted that Johan Larsson, who assisted on the OT winner, had something of a redemptive game…

Marco Scandella scored with 0.2 seconds left in overtime to give the Buffalo Sabres a 3-2 victory against the Detroit Red Wings at Little Caesars Arena on Thursday. Scandella took a pass from Johan Larsson and beat goalie Jimmy Howard.

“Johan made a great play to get to the net, and I tried to find some space in the slot,” Scandella said. “I saw the green light go off out of the corner of my eye, but I was pretty sure the puck was already in.”

With Larsson in the penalty box, Red Wings forward Justin Abdelkader scored on the power play with 1:25 left in the third period to tie the game 2-2.

“There’s a very thin line between a great finish to a game and a terrible one,” Larsson said. “I hated watching them tie it from the box, so it was nice to make a play in overtime.”

Evander Kane scored his 20th goal, and Rasmus Ristolainen had a goal and an assist for the Sabres (18-32-11), who ended a three-game losing streak (0-2-1).

“I thought we did a very nice job, except for the start of the second period,” Sabres coach Phil Housley said. “We sat back and let them use their speed, which we knew we couldn’t do, but we pulled it back together.”

Robin Lehner made 35 saves, including a point-blank pad save on defenseman Trevor Daley in overtime.

“The one thing about 3-on-3 is that you usually get a chance to get set for 2-on-1 breaks,” Lehner said. “I knew where [Daley] was, and I knew [Andreas Athanasiou] was going to make the pass, so I got across.”

And the Associated Press’s recap kind-of-sort-of addressed the Kane goal:

Blashill was quick to bash the league’s goaltender interference rule, which he said wasn’t properly applied during a challenge of Kane’s goal.

“We have a rule as grey as grey can be,” he said.

The Red Wings scratched veteran defenseman Mike Green for a fourth straight game with an upper-body injury, but he might play Saturday at home against Carolina.

“If he’s healthy to play, he’ll play,” Blashill said. “There’s risk in playing and there’s risk in not playing. There might be teams that want to see him.”

Rasmus Ristolainen scored early in the game to put the Sabres ahead and Robin Lehner finished with 35 saves, including some key ones in the extra period.

“I know the fans love overtime, but that’s a lot of stress for the coaches,” Sabres coach Phil Housley said. “I think we were probably taking too much risk in overtime, but Robin bailed us out with a couple huge saves.”

Jimmy Howard stopped 27 shots for the Red Wings.

Detroit’s Jonathan Ericsson tied the game at 1 early in the second period. Justin Abdelkader pulled the Red Wings into a 2-all tie with 1:25 remaining in the third. They had a chance to win early in overtime, but Tomas Tatar failed to get a shot off on a breakaway.

To their credit, the Red Wings spent most of their post-game frustration critiquing their effort, as the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan noted

“Very, very frustrating,” said defenseman Jonathan Ericsson, who scored a goal in the gut-wrenching defeat. “We had good chances (in overtime) and they made big save. Howie (goaltender Jimmy Howard) made a huge save for us (on a 3-on-1 Buffalo rush). It’s just the way it goes right now. We had good chances to close the game, but somehow they found a way to win.”

The Red Wings extended the game into overtime when Justin Abdelkader tied it 2-2 with a power-play goal at 18 minutes, 35 seconds of the third period.

Abdelkader tapped in a loose puck in the crease for his 10th goal, giving the Red Wings at least one point against the worst team in the Eastern Conference.

Considering how the Red Wings came out in the opening 20 minutes, with another lackluster start, finding a way to at least earning one point was a positive outcome.

“We came and were outshooting them, and they scored, and we melted,” said coach Jeff Blashill of the first period. “The first period, we weren’t good. I’m not sure why. Things are going OK, and they score and just for whatever reason, it seemed we didn’t have much going on after that.”

Gradually, the Red Wings got into the game and fought through a Buffalo team that clogged the neutral zone and made things difficult.

“The battle level in the last two (periods),” said captain Henrik Zetterberg about what he liked from his team. “Tough goals against, but we kept fighting all the way to the end.”

But the Red Wings were also puzzled by the NHL’s ruling on the Kane goal, as the Free Press’s Helene St. James noted:

Howard said he has “no idea what goalie interference is any more in this league.” He said he asked for an explanation, but did not get one.

Blashill pointed to a midseason change in what constitutes goalie interference as problematic.

“I think hockey ops had done an unreal job for the first part of the year of making a grey rule as black and white as they could,” he said. “Basically, if you went in the blue on your own and you made contact with the goaltender, and kept him from being able to play his position, it was going to be called back. I could go to my guys and say exactly what it was.

“And then there was a meeting that I wasn’t a part of at the All-Star game, and there was a feeling that too many goals were getting called back, so then they want to go back to this term, ‘egregious.’ Well what’s egregious mean? So now we’re back to ultra-grey. All I know is, Pominville had no reason to go into the crease, zero. He stood literally in front, right on the goalie. So I don’t know what goalie interference is now. I don’t know what egregious means. I know for sure that the player went in on his own, didn’t allow our guy to play his position, kept our guy from making the save. I’m not sure what goalie interference is if that’s not goalie interference.”

Mostly, however, the Red Wings were angry at themselves…

“We were outshooting them 5-2, we get scored on and we melted,” Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. “The rest of the first period we were no good. Played really well in the second. Have to score on more chances.”

The slow start looked all the worse as the Wings had been burned in their previous game, when a poor start against Nashville led to a regulation loss.

“We didn’t start as well as we would have wanted to,” Justin Abdelkader said after contributing a 6-on-4 goal with 1:25 to go in regulation. “They had a power play and I thought they built momentum off that. We just have to find a way to make sure we’re engaged right off the start. Buffalo does a good job through the neutral zone — they don’t give you a whole lot. But we have to find a way to get in the offensive zone, get pucks on net and create some momentum that way and get engaged right off the bat.”

Howard called it “a little disappointing. That was one of our focus tonight to get off to a good start, and once again we gave the team a lead.”

And as’s Dana Wakiji noted, in a somewhat ironic twist, Jonathan Ericsson is playing some of the best hockey he’s played in years on a very mediocre Wings team:

Jonathan Ericsson: Ericsson will never be confused with Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson, one of the premier offensive defensemen in the league, but that doesn’t mean he can’t score. At 3:42 of the second period, Ericsson collected the puck and moved into the high slot, shooting the puck past Buffalo goaltender Robin Lehner for an unassisted tally. It was Ericsson’s third of the season, marking the fifth time in his career he has scored three goals. His career best is four goals scored during the 2009-10 season. Ericsson led the team with five shots.

Ericsson had 5 shots, 6 attempts, 2 hits, a giveaway and a blocked shot 17:10 played. On a very middling night for most players, Ericsson was…very good?

Quotable: “We know that we can’t have anything slip away. That’s why this is very frustrating. This is one point, one big point slipping away from us. Obviously, it’s not a team that we’re chasing, but that’s still a point that’s slipping away from us. We can’t afford that. We gotta get these two points every night.” – Ericsson

And, as you might expect, the Red Wings’ captain did his best to steady the ship–while pointing out that the Wings are in dire need of a better net-front drive:

Quotable II: “They play really structured in front of him (Lehner). I think in the third, even though we had a lot of puck possession in their end, it’s hard to get pucks through. But you have to find a way, and maybe it’s not from the D all the time. Throw it in from bad angles, and I thought we tried doing that. We just gotta keep at it.” – Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg


Highlights: posted a 4:27 highlight clip…

 And an 8:59 “condensed game”:

 Post-game: WGR 550 posted post-game comments from Robin Lehner, Rasmus Ristolainen, Marco Scandella, Johan Larsson and coach Phil Housley;

The Sabres’ website posted a clip of Marco Scandella’s post-game interview with MSG;

Fox 2 posted a clip of coach Jeff Blashill, Justin Abdelkader and Jimmy Howard’s post-game remarks:

MLive’s Ansar Khan posted a clip of Howard’s post-game comments…

And a clip of Blashill’s comments…

The Free Press’s Helene St. James posted a clip of Jonathan Ericsson, Abdelkader and Blashill’s comments…

The Red Wings’ website posted a clip of comments from Henrik Zetterberg, Ericsson, Howard, Abdelkader and coach Blashill:


Photos: The Free Press posted a 7-image gallery;

The Detroit News posted a 20-image gallery;

ESPN posted a 12-image gallery;

And and the Red Wings‘ website posted 31-image galleries.


Here’s the Game Summary

And the Event Summary:

The final shot attempts were 70-47 Detroit. Detroit fired 37 shots ON net, 10 wide, and 23 into Sabres shin pads.

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George Malik

My name is George Malik, and I'm the Malik Report's editor/blogger/poster. I have been blogging about the Red Wings since 2006, when MLive hired me to work their SlapShots blog, and I joined Kukla's Korner in 2011 as The Malik Report. I'm starting The Malik Report as a stand-alone site, hoping that having my readers fund the website is indeed the way to go to build a better community and create better content.

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