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The Malik Report

The overnight report: Red Wings-Sabres wrap-up and Red Wings-Canadiens set-up

The Detroit Red Wings struggled at times and dominated at others during the course of a 2-1 loss to the Buffalo Sabres on Monday night, and Detroit had to take its frustrations with them as they packed up their gear and headed to Montreal for a battle against the Canadiens (7:30 PM EDT on FSD/Sportsnet East/RDS/97.1 FM), a team the Wings never win against in Montreal.

It kind of bugs me that the Sabres and Red Wings so precisely knew what happened to their respective teams, too, with Buffalo capitalizing on a slow Red Wings start and dominating the special teams battle (2-for-2 on the power play, 4-for-4 on the penalty-kill), as the Sabres told BuffaloSabres.com's Chris Ryndak:

After Buffalo took a 2-0 lead midway through the second, the Red Wings upped the ante and controlled play for a good chunk of the rest of the game.

"We were composed for the rest of that period, the last six, seven minutes, whatever it was," Lehner said. "They came out in the third and they obviously were going to have a push. They have good players on that team and I think we did a good job defensively, helping me out for rebounds and seeing the puck."

The Sabres power play has been great all year and both of their units proved to be difference makers Monday night. They entered the night second in the NHL behind Toronto, but the perfect performance against Detroit will put them at 24.0 percent on the season and back on top.

"I thought we played a real good first period - jumped on them, had some opportunities. But it was the power play that cashed in to give us the lead and again in the second period," Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said. "I thought they probably played their stretch of hockey in the first 10 minutes of the second, but we got the power-play opportunity, got up 2-0 and the kill had to come up a number of times, and especially in the third period to solidify the win."

Buffalo killed off two penalties in the third, including one late to secure the two points.

"The penalty kill was great today. I think I ended up having two or three shots, maybe, on four penalties," Lehner said. "From Ryan [O'Reilly] winning good faceoffs to everyone getting good clears, and getting it down the ice and a good forecheck up ice, I think it was a great job today."

And the Buffalo News's Mike Harrington:

After going 0 for 4 on the power play in their three games in California, the Sabres went 2 for 2 on goals from Jack Eichel and Matt Moulson. They also went 4 for 4 on their penalty kill. The result was their first two-game winning streak in more than a month.

"We talk about winning the special teams battle every game," said Moulson, who added to his team lead with his 11th power play goal of the season. "We did a good job with that tonight."

Added Eichel: "We weren't too happy with the power play out West so it's nice to get a couple."

Eichel scored in the first period on a one-timed wrist shot off a Ryan O'Reilly feed for his 21st goal of the season. Moulson's 14th was also aesthetically pleasing. The Sabres work the tip drill in the slot on the power play regularly in practice and executed it perfectly on Tyler Ennis' feed in the slot to Moulson, who deflected it through Petr Mrazek's legs.

"I knew what he was thinking on that one," Moulson said of Ennis, who notched his first point in 12 games. "He was kind of looking at me. I just got open for him and he made a great play."

The Sabres reclaimed the NHL lead on the power play at 24 percent for the season with their 14th multi-goal performance. Moulson said the Sabres' confidence is rooted in their familiarity with each other and the plans of first-year assistant coaches Bob Woods and Tom Ward to get players in the right spots on the ice.

"Offensively, the power play is what makes us go," Moulson said.

Among Harrington's notes:

Eichel Alert: Jack Eichel netted his 21st of the season to open the scoring at 10:59 of the first period. It came 29 seconds after Mike Green went off for hooking. Eichel one-timed home sweeping wrist shot off a Ryan O'Reilly feed for his ninth power play goal of the season.

Power play specialist: The Sabres went up, 2-0, at 8:59 of the second as Matt Moulson directed Tyler Ennis' pass through Petr Mrazek's legs for his 14th goal of the season -- and team-high 11th on the power play. Moulson is tied for seventh in the NHL in that category. It was Ennis' first point in 12 games.

Cutting the deficit:  Tomas Tatar got Detroit within a goal at 12:35 of the second, tapping in Green's goalmouth pass.

No playoffs here: For the first time in 25 years, the Red Wings are not going to make the playoffs and it will end the longest active postseason run in North American professional sports.

"It's really hard to be consistent in this league, certainly like that," said Sabres winger Marcus Foligno. "That's special. They built a dynasty here. ... they've always had that Detroit Red Wing attitude, the model of being a skill team that works hard. This barn has seen a lot of playoff hockey and it's what makes it so special and this franchise so special."

The Wings weren't very special on Monday, and both teams knew it, as they told NHL.com's Dave Hogg:

"The game was special teams tonight, obviously," Detroit coach Jeff Blashill said. "They had two power-play goals, and we didn't get any in four chances. That is the difference in a lot of games in this league."

It was the final game at Joe Louis Arena for the Sabres. The Red Wings will play at Little Caesars Arena beginning next season.

"I had a moment by myself this morning where I just took in the sights and all the memories," said Buffalo coach Dan Bylsma, who coached the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 2-1 victory in Game 7 of the 2009 Stanley Cup Final in Detroit. "I'll have a souvenir in my pocket when I walk out of here tonight."

he Sabres took a 1-0 lead when Eichel scored at 10:59 of the first period, 29 seconds after he drew a hooking penalty on Red Wings defenseman Mike Green.

Eichel took a pass from Ryan O'Reilly at the top of the right faceoff circle and beat goalie Petr Mrazek with a wrist shot for his 21st goal.

"I didn't see it," Mrazek said. "There was a guy in front of me and I tried to look on the blocker side, and he had a quick release."

Defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen got his NHL-leading 24th power-play assist on the goal.

Moulson made it 2-0 when he scored with a backhand off a Tyler Ennis pass for Buffalo's second power-play goal at 8:59 of the second period, 17 seconds after Tatar was called for tripping O'Reilly. Eleven of Moulson's 14 goals have come on the power play.

And the Associated Press's recap will serve as our pivot point between the Sabres and Red Wings' perspectives:

"Our power play has been great all year," Eichel said. "But we've had a couple bad games in a row, so it was nice to get those two."

Robin Lehner made 34 saves for the Sabres, who have won two straight for the first time in more than a month. They have an opportunity to pass sixth-place Florida in the Atlantic Division to end a three-year string of finishing seventh or eighth in the eight-team division. Buffalo hasn't made the playoffs since 2011.

Tomas Tatar scored in his third straight game, pulling Detroit within one midway through the second. The Red Wings had power plays early and late in the third period but failed to take advantage of their opportunities to tie the game, falling to 0 for 4 with an extra skater.

"That's in the end the difference in the game," coach Jeff Blashill said.

It has also made a difference in the season, making Detroit one of the worst teams on the power play and in the standings.

The last-place Red Wings are five points behind Buffalo in the division. They're moving closer toward being mathematically eliminated from the postseason for the first time since 1990. Detroit had won two straight, giving it a chance to win three in a row for the first time in two months -- and third time this season -- to hold onto its slim hopes of rallying into the playoffs.

"If you count how many points we can get, it's going to be hard," Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg acknowledged. "We've got to win out and a lot of teams have to do really bad. Even though it's not officially over, it's going to take a lot for us to make it."

The Red Wings' faithful captain continued while speaking with the Free Press's Helene St. James:

“They won the special teams battles,” Henrik Zetterberg said. “I thought we better 5-on-5, except maybe in the first. Second and third periods, we worked hard and created a lot of chances. When you have that many chances, you would like to see at least one go in.”

The benefit to losing as they carom towards the end of the regular season is improved odds in the draft lottery. While the bigger picture beckons losing, team personnel remain focused on daily improvement.

They had two power plays goals, we had four chances and had none,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “That is, in the end, the difference in the game. So that was that. Then I didn’t think in the first we were good enough. Those two things are what stands out to me. We were much better in the second and third, but need a better first. Our power play generated six shots, but it didn’t generate a goal. We obviously needed one, especially late in the game.”

The Wings did rally, after a while, anyway...

The Wings replied with an even-strength goal at 12:53. Green threw pass into the paint that Tatar redirected for his 21st goal of the season.

“I just tried to skate full speed down by the net and Mike made a beautiful pass,” Tatar said.

That stoked some momentum for the Wings, who finished the period with 12 shots.

Zetterberg told the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan that the Red Wings' power play may have been "sniffed out"...

“They probably scouted us a little bit (on the power play),” Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg said. “(They) took away what had been working before. We had to adjust a little bit (and) we had a few more chances in the end. But when you have that many chances, you would like to see it at least go in.”

Eichel opened the scoring with his 21st goal. With Mike Green in the box for hooking, Eichel one-timed a pass from Ryan O’Reilly from the top left circle and beat goaltender Petr Mrazek at 10:30.

The Sabres extended the lead on their first power play attempt of the second period, with Tatar off for tripping. Moulson scored his 14th goal at 8:59, giving Buffalo what turned out to be an insurmountable two-goal lead.

“They won the specialty-team battle,” Zetterberg said. “We did better five-on-five, except for maybe the first (period). The second and third periods, we worked hard and created lots of chances.”

And Blashill offered this take on the team's power play...

“I don’t think it was any different in terms of execution, we created, we had pucks around the cage a little bit,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “Maybe we weren’t as good getting to those loose rebounds, we’ve been real good at that lately. But in the end we had chances, we have to score.”

And, well, this on the team's 2nd and 3rd periods:

“Competition level and skating,” Blashill said was the difference. “I didn’t think we competed hard enough in the first, we didn’t skate enough and we were a step behind all over the ice. We answered the bell (in the final two periods) and started to win more battles.”

The problem was that the Red Wings had a 2-0 deficit by the time they got back into the game, and the Wings' attack in the 3rd period wasn't quite as furious.

In fact, the third period looked like the Red Wings were trying to win a game in which they were tied 1-1, not a game in which they were down 2-1.

DetroitRedWings.com's Dana Wakiji noted that Tomas Tatar was and has been a bright spot for the Wings of late...

Tomas Tatar : Last season, Tatar had 21 goals in 81 games. In his 71st game of this season, Tatar equaled that mark. At 12:53 of the second period, Tatar drove to the net and sent Mike Green's pass past Buffalo goaltender Robin Lehner. It was Tatar's third goal in two games and ninth in the last 14. Tatar also extended his point streak to three games and has four goals and two assists in that span. Henrik Zetterberg also assisted on the goal, extending his point streak to three games. Zetterberg has one goal and four assists in that span. Zetterberg also reached the 60-point mark for the eighth time in his career.

Quotable: "I made a pass to the middle to Hank and he passed it wide. I just tried to skate full speed down by the net and Mike made a beautiful play, it was just a tap-in." - Tatar

As was Tomas Nosek:

Tomas Nosek: With Darren Helm out with a lower-body injury until at least Friday, the Wings recalled Nosek on an emergency basis for the second time. This time, Nosek got to play, centering the fourth line with Drew Miller and Luke Glendening. Nosek played in six games last season with the Wings. Nosek played in 15 shifts for 10:05 ice time but made his impact felt, leading all skaters with six shots on goal. He also won all four of his face-offs.

Quotable: "Every time I step on the ice I want to prove something, like be good defensively or create something on offense. Couple chances there but we lost." - Nosek

If the Wings had more players with Nosek's determination in the lineup, they'd be a better team. I suppose that's as fair a place as any to end this little recap, because whether there are enough Noseks in the lineup is up for debate.


Hightlights: NHL.com posted a 3:23 highlight clip...

And a 4:22 "Condensed Game":

Post-game: WGR 550's Paul Hamilton does an audio post-game take;

Fox Sports Detroit posted clips of Henrik Zetterberg...

And Tomas Nosek's remarks...

And John Keating delivered a "Digital Post-Game":

The Red Wings posted clips of Zetterberg...

Tomas Tatar...


Petr Mrazek...

And coach Jeff Blashill's remarks:

MLive's Ansar Khan posted clips of Zetterberg, Nosek and Blashill's remarks;

The Free Press's Helene St. James posted a clip of Zetterberg, Tatar and Blashill's remarks.

Photos: The Free Press posted a 10-image gallery;

The Detroit News posted a 26-image gallery;

MLive posted an 11-image gallery;

ESPN posted a 13-image gallery;

And NHL.com and the Red Wings' website posted 26-image galleries.


Here's the Game Summary...

And the Event Summary

Red Wings-Canadiens set-up: This is going to be...something. The 28-32-11 Red Wings will take on the 41-23-and-8 Montreal Canadiens this evening (7:30 PM EDT on FSD/RDS/97.1 FM). Montreal is coming off a 4-1 victory over the Ottawa Senators on Sunday night, and Montreal has won 2 straight and 9 of their past 11 games.

The Montreal Gazette's Stu Cowan kind-of-sort-of sets up tonight's game via a rambling column regarding Jordie Benn's addition to the team...

The Canadiens had a day off Monday before facing the Detroit Red Wings Tuesday night at the Bell Centre (7:30 p.m., RSE, RDS, TSN Radio 690). Sunday’s win over Ottawa moved the Canadiens four points ahead of the Senators atop the Atlantic Division standings and Montreal’s next five games are all at home. The Canadiens have 10 games remaining in the regular season and next Saturday’s rematch with the Senators at the Bell Centre is the only one against a team currently in a playoff position.

Things are looking good for the Canadiens, who are 10-4-0 since Claude Julien took over from Michel Therrien as head coach. After Sunday’s win, Julien talked about how excited Benn was when he arrived in Montreal, along with his great personality and sense of humour, which have fit in well with his new teammates. The coach added he likes the way Benn — with his big, bushy beard and sleeve tattoo — knows when it’s time to work and when it’s time to have fun and enjoy life. Julien also likes how patient Benn is with the puck, making good decisions while playing solid defensively.

Benn has two more seasons remaining on a three-year, US$3.3-million contract.

“The guys in here are awesome,” Benn said about his new teammates. “It’s an easy transition. I talked with Weby (Shea Weber, who is also from B.C.) before I got here and these guys have been great. Just come in here and play my game.”

And Cowan repeated his points of empahsis in an article regarding the team as a whole:

Coach Claude Julien has been teaching the Canadiens new habits since taking over from Michel Therrien on Valentine’s Day, and the lessons are definitely sinking in. The Canadiens beat the Senators for the second straight night, 4-1 at the Bell Centre Sunday, following a 4-3 shootout win in Ottawa Saturday. The Canadiens are now 10-4-0 since Julien took over and have moved four points ahead of the Senators atop the Atlantic Division standings. The Canadiens, who play their next five games at home, have 10 games remaining in the regular season and the Senators 11.

The player who has benefitted the most from Julien’s lessons and the team’s new habits is goalie Carey Price, who has a 9-3-0 record since the new coach arrived, allowing only 19 goals during that span with a .943 save percentage.

Julien is building his team around his best player, Price, which isn’t anything new in Montreal. Price faced 31 shots in each of the two wins against the Senators and fewer than 30 shots in the six games before that. When you have the best goalie in the world and can limit the shots he faces to around 30, your chances of winning are pretty good.

Your chances also improve when you can spread the goal-scoring around, something the Canadiens are finally doing after relying far too heavily on Pacioretty to carry the load. Pacioretty, who leads the team with 33 goals, didn’t score against Ottawa on the weekend, but centre Tomas Plekanec ended a 19-game goal-less drought Sunday and defenceman Nathan Beaulieu scored his first goal in 32 games. On Saturday, centre Phillip Danault ended a 22-game drought.

Jordie Benn and Paul Byron scored the other goals for the Canadiens Sunday and the 5-foot-9, 160-pound Byron reached the 20-goal mark for the first time in his career and has six goals in the last eight games. He had a second goal Sunday called off after a video review for being offside.

“I didn’t think I’d be a 20-goal scorer in the NHL,” said Byron, who was claimed on waivers by the Canadiens from Calgary before the start of last season. “I’ve come a long way to reach that, so it’s definitely a special moment. My wife and kids are here in the rink, so it’s a pretty cool thing to see.”

When your team's English-language newspaper's other article of the day states, "Canadiens Notebook: Max Pacioretty not concerned about Maurice Richard Trophy," you're doing pretty well; the Canadiens' website also posted a Wings-Habs preview:

The Canadiens go in search of their third straight victory when they play host to the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday night at the Bell Centre.

Claude Julien's troops are coming off a big home-and-home weekend sweep of the Ottawa Senators, which gave them a four-point lead over Guy Boucher's squad for top spot in the Atlantic Division with 10 games remaining on their regular-season schedule.

On Sunday night, Tomas Plekanec, Jordie Benn, Paul Byron and Nathan Beaulieu all managed to light the lamp behind Senators goaltender Craig Anderson in a 4-1 victory. Byron reached the 20-goal plateau for the very first time in his NHL career, earning first-star honours to the delight of the home crowd. Carey Price, meanwhile, posted a 30-save performance to register his 33rd win of the season.


For his part, Plekanec will surpass Guy Carbonneau and take sole possession of 11th spot on the Canadiens' all-time games played list on Tuesday night by suiting up for his 913th career game in a Habs uniform.

Tuesday night's matchup could also mark forward Steve Ott's first game against his former team after being acquired by the Canadiens at the trade deadline three weeks ago. Ott was a healthy scratch on Sunday in favour of young gun Michael McCarron.

The Red Wings, meanwhile, saw their two-game winning streak snapped on Monday night at Joe Louis Arena, falling 2-1 to the Buffalo Sabres.

Detroit enters the contest sitting last in the Atlantic Division - and ranking 15th in the Eastern Conference standings - with 67 points in 71 games. 

The Canadiens have won two of their three meetings with the Red Wings so far this season.

The Associated Press posted a solid game preview, too:

With the clock winding down on the 2016-17 regular season, the Detroit Red Wings find themselves in unfamiliar territory.

For the first time since the spring of 1990, the Original Six franchise will be spectators when the Stanley Cup playoffs get under way in a few weeks, snapping a 25-year postseason appearance streak -- the longest active run of its kind in major league sports and the third longest in NHL history.

This year, the Red Wings (28-32-11) find themselves in the Atlantic Division basement and only three points out of the Eastern Conference cellar. The games now are essentially for pride and next season, the motivation they will have to rely on when they visit the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday night at the Bell Centre.

Detroit arrives in Montreal off yet another setback, falling 2-1 to Buffalo on Monday night. It ended a modest two-game winning streak, dropping the Red Wings to 3-6-1 thus far in March.


It wasn't too long ago that Montreal (41-23-8) held a tenuous grip on a playoff berth. But a coaching change and a renewed confidence have the Canadiens a step closer to securing a postseason appearance -- and the Atlantic Division title -- after a weekend sweep of a back-to-back, home-and-home set against the Ottawa Senators.

"Obviously being first in the division is a big thing and an important part of (the wins against Ottawa) but clinching the playoffs is the most important part," said center Tomas Plekanec, who scored his first goal in nearly two months, after Sunday's win. "We're obviously happy with those two wins and we've got to keep it going."

Left-winger Paul Byron continued his recent hot streak in recording his sixth goal in the last eight games on Sunday to hit the 20-goal mark for the first time in his career. Only second player on the Canadiens roster to hit the mark this season after captain Max Pacioretty, the speedy winger has been on a roll since snapping out of an offensive funk with a last-second, game-winning goal on March 2.
While the secondary scoring has finally returned, Montreal is still looking for more offense from its power play. Defenseman Nathan Beaulieu connected with the man advantage in their most recent win, the Canadiens' first power-play goal in March on 18 opportunities.


Here are the highlights of the Canadiens' latest win for your pre-scouting purposes:

And the Canadiens' lineup should resemble the one they iced against the Senators:



Red Wings notebooks and also of Red Wings-related note: MLive's Ansar Khan penned a notebook article about Tomas Nosek:

Nosek, 24, said he wants to prove he belongs in the NHL. He will no longer be exempt from waivers next season.

"We've got a great team down there," Nosek said. "We are first in our division. We have a great group of guys and a lot of skill guys. I play power play down there this year, so that's helped me with the points. I'm very happy. I'm just going to be a player who can play everything -- power play, PK, defense, offense -- whatever coach wants I will play."

Nosek, who appeared in six games for the Red Wings in 2015-16, said he's a better skater now than when he arrived from the Czech Republic in 2014.

"I have a problem the first year with the quickness, the speed here," Nosek said. "That's probably the big step for me, the speed. I try to work every summer on it. I hope it's working. I feel the difference. I'm a little quicker on the ice. The speed gives me confidence, too."

Said Blashill: "I think his skating has really gotten better over the last two years. If you'd have asked me two years ago, I'd have said his skating has to improve for him to play in the league now. I know he trained real hard in the off-season. He trained with a sprinter the last two off-seasons. I thought when he came up and played with us last year his skating was excellent."

Khan continues...

Among the Windsor Star's Bob Duff's notes:

Defenseman Ryan Sproul’s season is done due to a knee injury and he’s uncertain at this point as to whether the injury will impact his 2017-18 NHL campaign.

“It depends on obviously if I need surgery or not,” Sproul said. “I’m hoping that I don’t and I can get back and start working out in a couple weeks for real and have a good summer.”

Restricted to only 27 games due to injury and healthy scratches, Sproul was ready to take a regular turn on the Detroit blue line when he was injured in Edmonton.

“It’s just a tough season in general for me,” Sproul said. “It’s not what I wanted. I wanted to come in and make my point of knowing that I could play in this league. It’s kind of a struggle when you can’t get into games, can’t get any consistency. I think with this injury, I’m going to look back on this season and do whatever I can next season to stick in the lineup.”

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink


Hootinani's avatar

At no point did they dominate in that game.  Any time it looked like they might pick up some momentum, somebody would do something stupid.  And Blash kept throwing Sheahan over the boards in the 3rd to make sure they didnt tie it up.

Posted by Hootinani from the parade following Babs out of town on 03/21/17 at 10:25 AM ET


Defenseman Ryan Sproul’s season is done due to a knee injury and he’s uncertain at this point as to whether the injury will impact his 2017-18 NHL campaign.

The only good part of that is he can probably be left unprotected in the expansion draft.

Posted by AZWinger on 03/21/17 at 11:21 AM ET

WingedRider's avatar

Another prospect coming up. Ben Street is tied for goals scored. Another top player plucked from GR.  What I don’t get iss how the Hell is GR staying at the top when so many of their top players are in Detroit.  Amazing, IMO

If the Wings can at least get rid of some of those albatross contracts blocking the kids from moving up and showing whether they can play in the Big Time.

I really have had a lot of interest in Nosek starting with his arrival.  At 1st I thought were going to lose him, wanted more ice time, wanted to go home, etc.

When I saw him last night I was amazed by , actually, everything in his game.  Huge difference from the beginning.  Always wanted to be a strong 2 way player but had to grow up.  The fact that Blashill has never seen him play this year, just simply pissed me off and now I see another problem.  He talks about the callups and hasn’t seen them play this year, pure BS.  I am sure others have but if I was the coach I WOULD want to see him and others from time to time.  He actually saw them at the start of the year but has selective memory. Just like everywhere you can only BS your way through your job before you are found.  Out the Door!!

Anyway I hope we don’t lose Nosek and other to Vegas, another one of Bettman/Owners BS money makers.  High % of these new circus franchises will flounder around for years. Protected list, give me a break.  A blind man can see the high number of over paid, unskilled dolts we have.  Out the Door!!

The NHL should cut back to 28 teams and get better entertainment and hockey.

There will probably be a sniper setting up outside my window for that idea.

Anyway, the WINGS have been a great team for a lot of years.  This one year has been frustrating for everyone but at least it should have made the Wings Management wake up call and do something before the Wings Logo becomes a joke!!

I am watching Z, the goalies of course and some exciting prospects… the rest are part of the reason we are having a rough season… So Out the Door!!!

Howie is capable of standing on his head and frustrating the Habs, fingers crossed!!

Posted by WingedRider from Saskatoon, SK on 03/21/17 at 12:50 PM ET

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About The Malik Report

The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.