The Detroit Red Wings' debut in the Eastern Conference was a smashing success.
Mikael Samuelsson and Pavel Datsyuk scored and Jimmy Howard made 19 saves to lead the Red Wings to a 2-1 win against the Buffalo Sabres at Joe Louis Arena on Wednesday night. It was the first game for Detroit since shifting to the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference as part of the NHL's realignment.
Zemgus Girgensons scored and Ryan Miller made 32 saves for the Sabres, who went 0-for-7 on the power play in their season debut.
Detroit raced to a 2-0 lead with two goals in a span of 36 seconds midway through the first period. Samuelsson opened the scoring at 12:05 when he redirected Cory Emmerton's shot past Miller for the Red Wings' first goal of the season.
Datsyuk doubled Detroit's lead at 12:41, when he intercepted rookie Rasmus Ristolainen's pass in the Sabres' zone at the left circle, deked his way into the slot and ripped a backhander past Miller to make it 2-0.
The Red Wings, who've won 12 of their last 13 games against Buffalo at Joe Louis Arena, outshot the Sabres 8-6 in the first period.
Detroit believed it had grabbed a 3-0 lead with 8:35 left in the second period when Todd Bertuzzi poked a puck from the slot past Miller. But Danny Cleary bumped Miller on the play and was whistled for goalie interference.
Emmerton then had a glorious opportunity to put the Red Wings up by three goals when he was awarded a penalty shot with 7:41 left in the second after being pulled down on a breakaway by Sabres defenseman Christian Ehrhoff. But Miller denied Emmerton's wrist shot to keep it a 2-0 game.
Buffalo finally solved Howard with 7:24 remaining in regulation, and the Red Wings' goaltender played a big role in losing his shutout bid. Howard went behind the net to play the puck and attempted to shoot it around the boards, but Sabres forward Brian Flynn managed to get a piece of the clearing attempt and the puck went right in front, where Girgensons backhanded it into an open net to make it a one-goal game.
Girgensons, 19, was Buffalo's first-round pick (No. 14) at the 2012 NHL Draft and was appearing in his first game after spending last season with the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League.