(Photo Courtesy of Harry Scull Jr.)
Every team skates to center ice after a home ice win and salutes their fans. It shows that they love the fans’ support and they are grateful to be doing what they do in front of the home crowd. The Buffalo Sabres have not been able to salute their fans this year at home, until Sunday night. They have not won a game at home yet this season and they have been shutout in five of their previous eight games. They needed the help of their fans to get this win.
“It was fun,” right wing Chris Stewart said. “To hear our fans erupt, it was good to get the win for them.”
After an extremely disappointing showing Saturday evening in Pittsburgh, the Sabres were able to hang with their division rival Detroit Red Wings and take them to a shootout. First, however, they had to to endure 5 minutes of overtime with the majority spent in their own end. Fighting off shot after shot from Detroit, Buffalo’s Michael Neuvirth was able to make several spectacular saves to keep his team in the game.
“That one probably felt as good as anything just to be able to give them a little salute,” Sabres defenseman Tyson Strachan said.
The first period started out pretty mellow for both teams. With no real good opportunities for goals and only two penalties, the game looked like it could be a one goal game, and it could have gone to either team.
The second period saw two goals, one from each team, and the majority of the penalties for the game. Buffalo’s Brian Flynn opened the scoring on a nice backup play that started with Zemgus Girgensons. Girgensons made a nice wrap around attempt on Jimmy Howard and when that didn’t work, Flynn jumped up and got the puck past Howard to get his first of the season. Six minutes later Tomas Tatar tied the game at 1 after some nice play around the net. Tatar had a solid 10 seconds of skating around with the puck and nobody touching him before he just shot towards the goal and found the back of the net.
Detroit would take the lead four minutes into the third when a three on two saw Pavel Datsyuk alone in front of Neuvirth. A nice wrist shot would allow the assistant captain to get his 5th goal of the year. Buffalo was able to finally put together a decent third period and tie the game at 2. Chris Stewart got his first goal of the year, and first since last January, after some hard work down low. Stewart was falling towards the net and just pushed the puck towards Howard and with luck, the puck went past Howard and for extra insurance, Tyler Ennis was near the side of the net to make sure that puck went in and stayed in.
Just 46 seconds into overtime saw Detroit go on the powerplay after captain Brian Gionta got called for hooking. Buffalo would have to endure a lot of activity in their own zone if there were going to have a shot at a win. The same would be stuck on the ice for Buffalo for the majority of the penalty kill but goalie Neuvirth came up with some big stops, as did Tyler Myers who was able to get himself in front of a shot and stop the puck from going into a mainly wide open net.
Off we went to the shootout:
This win was the first for Buffalo this season at home and the second shootout win of the season. “It’s a results-based business, and it’s been a tough stretch,” Strachan said. “It’s nice to see the guys smile a little bit.”