The Detroit Red Wings will look to get their stalled offense untracked when they play a home-and-home set against the Buffalo Sabres. The first game will be played in Detroit on Saturday with the rematch occurring in Buffalo on Monday.
Detroit was shut out for the fifth time this season and second time in four games by Winnipeg 3-0 on Thursday. The Jets were playing with a revamped roster — eight of their players were in COVID protocol — but the Red Wings couldn’t get the puck past Connor Hellebuyck. The Jets’ goaltender recorded his 26th career shutout by making 33 saves.
The Red Wings have scored a total of five goals in the last four games. Prior to their 6-2 win over San Jose on Jan. 4, they were held to one goal by Washington and Boston.
Detroit returned from a winless three-game California road trip before getting blanked by the Jets.
“We did a lot of good things and it’s a hard game after you come back after being away,” center Dylan Larkin said. “We get home late last night and we have to turn around and play, and we showed up. We just didn’t show up on the scoreboard and that’s where it matters.”
Larkin fired eight shots on goal after a one-game absence due to an upper-body injury. The Wings had five power-play opportunities, including a 6-on-3 situation after they pulled goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic late in the game with two Jets in the penalty box.
“We have to find ways to score, and have to score every night in this league to win,” Larkin said. “Five on three, six on three, we have to find something and we didn’t.”
Detroit was playing its fourth game in six nights and coach Jeff Blashill felt the busy schedule caught up to his team.
“There were moments in the third we didn’t have the legs we needed, but up until that point we certainly had enough legs,” Blashill said. “We had some looks, for sure. Obviously, Connor is a real good goalie, but we had some real looks. We have to stay with it and keep working and find a way to be a little better for 60 minutes.”
Buffalo snapped a six-game winless streak by defeating Nashville 4-1 on Thursday. With some postponements mixed in, the Sabres hadn’t recorded a victory since winning a shootout against Minnesota on Dec. 16.
They snapped the Predators’ five-game winning streak in the process.
“I felt our guys deserved the win,” Sabres coach Don Granato said. “They worked for it. They earned it from the first drop of the puck all the way to the end, all the way to (Vinnie) Hinostroza’s (empty-net) goal. They battled and they stuck to a game plan, they had a real sense of objective and it was great to see.”
Jeff Skinner scored two goals as he reached the 500-point mark in his career. He leads Buffalo with 13 goals.
“He was fully engaged and he just keeps getting better,” Granato said. “He keeps looking better. So, nice to see him have a multi-goal game and he earned it.”
The home-and-home will complete the four-game season series with Detroit. The Red Wings notched two overtime victories over the Sabres in November.