Wings hope power-play surge continues vs. Sabres (Mar 20, 2017)
The Detroit Red Wings are finding an effective power play for the first time this season, even if it is far too late to save their season.
The Wings scored twice with the man advantage Saturday in a 5-1 win over the Colorado Avalanche after netting a pair of goals on the power play Thursday during a 5-4 shootout win over the Arizona Coyotes.
It marked the first time all season that the 28-31-11 Red Wings, who will miss the playoffs for the first time since the 1989-90 season, scored multiple times on the power play in consecutive games.
The Red Wings will be looking to make it three in a row — both in terms of victories and in games with more than one power-play goal — when they play host to the Buffalo Sabres on Monday at Joe Louis Arena.
“This is what we needed,” said Detroit left-winger Tomas Tatar, who scored twice Saturday to reach the 20-goal plateau for the third time in four seasons. “Without the power play, you can’t win the games.
“You need these goals to get you going in a certain point of the game and I feel like the last few games our power play’s working, which is huge and that’s why we’re getting points as well.”
The Detroit power play has even climbed out of the NHL’s basement. At 13.8 percent, the Red Wings moved into a tie for 28th with the Vancouver Canucks and ahead of the Avalanche (12.9 per cent).
Detroit coach Jeff Blashill sees a different group on the ice when the Red Wings are enjoying the man advantage, a unit that suddenly expects to put the puck in the net.
“No question confidence is a huge factor,” Blashill said. “It’s a huge factor in individuals, it’s a huge factor in units and it’s a huge factor as a team.
“Certainly, our power play (units) both feel better about themselves as units and while they still have to take on their own identity a little bit, I think both units have done a good job.”
Individual, the overall numbers still don’t paint a pretty picture. Center Dylan Larkin, who tallied with the man advantage Saturday, leads the team with five power-play goals. Justin Abdelkader and Frans Nielsen are next with four apiece.
At the other end of the spectrum, Philadelphia forwards Wayne Simmonds and Brayden Schenn share the NHL lead with 15 power-play goals apiece. Combined, those two have nearly as many power-play goals as the entire Red Wings team (31).
There is no such worries in Buffalo. The Sabres own the NHL’s second-best power play (23.3 percent), paced by Matt Moulson’s 10 goals.
Buffalo’s 2-1, 10-round shootout win Friday at Anaheim allowed the Sabres to improve to 2-6 in the shootout.
“We really needed to see that puck go in the net,” Sabres coach Dan Bylsma told the Buffalo News of the shootout winner by Zemgus Girgensons.
Detroit, an NHL-best 8-0 in the shootout, recalled forward Tomas Nosek on an emergency basis Sunday from AHL Grand Rapids. Forward Darren Helm left the Saturday game with a lower-body injury, and if he can’t go Monday, Nosek would be inserted.