Red Wings-Sabres Preview
RED WINGS (2-2-0) at SABRES (2-0-1)
Season Series: First of two meetings this season. Detroit won both games against Buffalo in 2008-09, outscoring the Sabres by a 7-2 margin. In the most recent battle between the teams, ex-Wing Marian Hossa scored twice in a 4-1 win on April 6 at HSBC Arena.
Big Story: Tuesday marks the first road game for the Red Wings this season in North America. Detroit opened the campaign abroad, losing a pair of games to the St. Louis Blues in Stockholm, Sweden. Meanwhile, Buffalo has come out of the gate with points in three consecutive games and has yet to lose in regulation.
Red Wings: Detroit has bounced back nicely following the European trip, winning back-to-back games against upper-echelon opposition in Chicago and Washington, respectively. Tomas Holmstrom broke a 2-2 tie with only 6:53 left to lift the Red Wings to a 3-2 win against the Caps on Saturday night at Joe Louis Arena.
"We controlled most of the game," said Wings coach Mike Babcock, who believed it was Detroit's best effort of the young season. "I thought we were better defensively, and that's real important. If we're going to be successful, it's going to be because we're good defensively."
Sabres: Despite numerous roster changes over the years, Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff always finds a way to keep his team competitive until the very end. This season is no different. Although they haven't scored more than two goals in a game yet, the Sabres are off to a 2-0-1 start. Ryan Miller made 25 saves on Saturday night in a 1-0 win at Nashville.
"My job on the road is to not get too high and to keep it tight," Miller said. "Nashville has some breakaways late in the third when the ice was getting chippy. I was happy to be there when I was needed."
Who's Hot: Not known for his offense, veteran forward Kirk Maltby is averaging a point per game thus far with a shorthanded goal and two assists in three contests. Maltby had 11 points in 78 games last season.
Miller is the Sabres' MVP thus far. Buffalo has scored four goals in three games, yet Miller is 2-0-1 with a 0.98 goals-against average and a .955 save percentage.
Injury Report: Red Wings forward Johan Franzen is out due to a torn ACL and is not expected back until after the Olympic break. Up-and-coming center Darren Helm is day-to-day with a lower-body injury but could make his season debut on Tuesday. Defenseman Andreas Lilja remains out with post-concussion syndrome.
For the Sabres, defenseman Toni Lydman (hand) is out. Center Adam Mair (hip) has been cleared to play but his status for Tuesday is unknown. Defenseman Andrej Sekera (upper body) is unlikely to play.
Stat Pack: Buffalo may be experiencing difficulty scoring goals, but it's not for lack of trying. In Saturday's 1-0 victory against the Predators, the Sabres fired 42 shots on goal. Mike Grier had the lone tally.
Puck Drop: With Hossa now in Chicago and Franzen likely out until March, Tomas Holmstrom will be relied upon to provide more offense. So far, the veteran forward has done just that with two goals in the Red Wings' first four games.
-- Brian Compton, NHL.com