Three Questions: Wings-Sabres
DRW.com's Michael Caples analyzes the Wings' 41st game
It took a while, but the Wings prevailed for a 3-1 victory over an unfamiliar foe Saturday night. But the game was much more one-sided then the final score reveals. The Wings fired 48 shots at the Buffalo Sabres’ goal. Needless to say, former Michigan State goalie Ryan Miller turned in a spectacular performance, but he couldn’t handle a relentless Detroit attack. The Red Wings used the always-successful ‘wear-em-down’ approach, shooting and shooting and shooting until a shot found its way to the back of the net. Jiri Hudler was the first to crack Miller, beating him with three minutes left in the second period on the Wings’ 24th shot of the evening – a shot count most coaches would be happy to see at the end of the third, let alone the second. It was more than 19 minutes later before Mikael Samuelsson was able to wrap a rebound around Miller to notch his first game-winning goal of the season. Marian Hossa added insurance, firing in his 20th goal of the season from the slot off a nice pass from Henrik Zetterberg to put the game away for Hockeytown.
Why were the Wings able to control the play?
Though it took them a while to pull away, the Wings dominated the play for the majority of the contest. They out-shot Buffalo, 48-22, and held them to only 10 shots in the first two periods. The Wings were able to control the flow of the game by once again controlling the face-off circle. At one point in the second period, the Wings were up 14-2 in face-off chances, and they finished with a face-off win total of 28-of-43. Controlling the pace of play from the drop of the puck made the Wings shot totals continue to rise throughout the contest. Tonight’s performance was nothing new for the Wings, however; Detroit leads the NHL in overall face-off win percentage at 55.6 percent coming into Saturday’s game.
How hot has Jiri Hudler been?
The 25-year-old Czech forward is rewriting his page in the Red Wings’ media guide this season. His goal tonight, a rocket one-timer off a pass from Brett Lebda, gave him 16 on the season – a personal best. Through 41 games, Hudler is nine points away from matching his 2007-08 totals, when he finished with 42. Huds has been making the most of extra ice time this season, and he’s been capitalizing on the man-advantage, with four goals and 10 assists on the power play. It will be exciting to see how far he can climb on the stats sheets by the end of the season.