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Detroit Red Wings

Five Takeaways: First Line Broken Up, Red Wings Break Out Of Slump



Alex Nedeljkovic, Detroit Red-Wings
Alex Nedeljkovic made 22 saves to post his first Detroit Red Wings shutout in a 4-0 win Saturday over the Buffalo Sabres.

There’s nothing that ails the Detroit Red Wings that a visit with the Buffalo Sabres can’t cure. For the third time this season, Detroit beat Buffalo and for the second time this season, the Wings ended a four-game skid by blanking the Sabres 4-0 on Saturday at Little Caesars.

The Wings won 4-3 in overtime at Buffalo on Nov. 6 to halt an 0-3-1 slide. This victory put an end to an 0-2-2 skid.

Five takeaways from Detroit’s first victory since Jan. 4.

Red Wings Starting On Time

A big first period saw the Red Wings grabbing a 2-0 lead. It was just the second time in 15 periods that they’d scored more than one goal during a frame.

Detroit pelted Sabres goalie Aaron Dell with a season-high 22 shots in the opening period. Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill felt a last-minute change of heart to give the team a day off on Friday played a role in their solid performance.

“I think ultimately the guys looked like they had way more juice tonight,” Blashill said. “There’s no doubt about it. I think they felt that it was a needed day off and we ended up making a decision to do it and obviously it paid off.

“The guys came out with tons of energy.”

Shuffling The Top Six

For the first time this season, Blashill broke up his top line. He made the decision of dropping Tyler Bertuzzi down to the second line with Pius Suter and Robby Fabbri. Vladislav Namestnikov was elevated to play with Dylan Larkin and Lucas Raymond.

“I thought Vladdy did a real good job,” Blashill said. “He’s deserved the opportunity. I think he’s played very good hockey overall He can make enough plays.

“He’s smart enough to play with those guys. And he’s also a good net-front guy, kind of in a slippery way.”

The trio of Bertuzzi, Suter and Fabbri briefly skated as linemates in junior with the OHL’s Guelph Storm.

“It was great,” Bertuzzi said. “I thought we made some good little plays, supported each other all over the ice. I thought we played pretty good.”

Yeah, But Did They Give Him A Dollar?

With his grandparents Richard and Louise, father Butch, mother Theresa and wife Emma in the LCA crowd, all wearing his No. 39 jersey, Alex Nedeljkovic blocked 22 shots for his fourth NHL shutout and first with the Red Wings.

“We’ll have to get them on the plane to Buff (for Monday’s game) and keep them rolling along,” Blashill said. “I think that’s awesome, that’s cool. I didn’t know that.

“I thought Ned played real well, especially later in the third. When we needed him to make some big saves he did.”

Thomas Greiss was the last Detroit goalie to post a shutout. He blanked the Tampa Bay Lighting 1-0 on May 1, 2021.

Raymond Lights A Lamp

For the first time in 15 games, Red Wings rookie forward Raymond dented twine. He converted a cross-crease feed from Larkin for his 11th goal of the season and first since Dec. 1.

“He’s been getting chances,” Blashill said. “It’s not like he hasn’t been getting chances. It’s not like he hasn’t produced and it’s not like he hasn’t helped us win games. He’s done all those things.

“Good for him to score for sure.”

Raymond is one goal behind Tanner Jeannot of the Nashville Predators for the lead among NHL rookies.

Center Michael Rasmussen rounded out Detroit’s scoring. By doing so, he brought an end to a personal eight-game goalless drought. Defenseman Filip Hronek assisted on Rasmussen’s goal to collect his 100th NHL point.

Red Wings Power Play Clicking

Detroit’s two first-period goals both came on the power play. It marked just the second time this season and the first time in 26 games that the Wings scored multiple times in the same game with the man advantage.

“That’s something we’ve been harping on, working on a lot lately,” Bertuzzi said. “It needed to be way better and it was tonight. I think that was the difference in the game, getting two early ones and then taking it to them.”