Struggling Red Wings try to continue mastery of Sabres

3:25 PM, Nov 24, 2013   |    comments
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( - The Detroit Red Wings hope to continue their recent dominance of the Sabres on Sunday, as the clubs clash in an Atlantic Division matchup at Buffalo's First Niagara Center.

Detroit has claimed five straight and eight of the last nine meetings in this series and the Red Wings notched a 2-1 home win over the Sabres on Oct. 2. Mikael Samuelsson and Pavel Datsyuk tallied 36 seconds apart in the first period to help Detroit record that regulation win, the 12th victory for the Red Wings in the last 13 meetings between the clubs at Joe Louis Arena.

The Wings also have done well in Buffalo in recent season, claiming two in a row and five of the past six encounters in Western New York.

Detroit, however, is not exactly firing on all cylinders heading into Sunday's meeting. The Red Wings have lost eight of their last nine games and are coming off Saturday's 4-2 setback against visiting Ottawa. Clarke MacArthur scored twice to lift the Senators to the road win at the Joe.

The loss came after Detroit had ended a seven-game losing streak, the club's longest in almost 23 years, with a 4-3 home win over Carolina on Thursday.

Pavel Datsyuk and Darren Helm scored in Saturday's loss for the Red Wings, while Jimmy Howard allowed all four goals on 29 shots for Detroit.

"I'm always concerned when you don't win," said Detroit head coach Mike Babcock. "You know I thought we did some good things tonight, but we didn't do enough to win and we need to fix that."

Making matters worse for the Red Wings, the club will be without Datsyuk on Sunday after the star forward took an elbow to the jaw in the loss to Ottawa. Senators defenseman Jared Cowen delivered the elbow that caused the injury, but he was not penalized on the play.

Datsyuk, who did not travel with the team to Buffalo, is leading Detroit with 12 goals this season and is second the club with 23 points. He expects to be replaced in the lineup Sunday by forward Daniel Alfredsson, who missed the past five games due to a pulled groin.

The Sabres, who are dead last in the NHL with 11 points this season, have lost three straight in regulation and are coming off consecutive 4-1 setbacks.

Buffalo scored the first goal of Thursday's game in Philadelphia, but then watched as the Flyers took over the tilt with four unanswered scores.

Tyler Myers notched the lone goal and a busy Ryan Miller made 42 saves for the Sabres, who have suffered losses in eight of their last 11 trips to the ice.

"It doesn't take rocket science to figure it out. We have to do simple things," said Sabres head coach Ted Nolan of his team's continued struggles. "We have to play the game. We have turnovers and we can't take foolish penalties. We can't take a bounce off the puck and slip in corners. We have to play a smarter game. And to play within what our strengths are."

The club is 1-3-0 since Nolan took over for a fired Ron Rolston on an interim basis.

Although Buffalo is only 2-9-1 as the host this season, the club will try to change its fortunes on home ice when it begins a three-game stay at First Niagara Center on Sunday. The Sabres also will host Montreal and Toronto during the homestand.

Jonas Gustavsson expects to get the start for Detroit on Sunday and is 1-3-2 with a 2.48 goals against average in seven career outings against Buffalo. Miller is 2-7-2 with a 3.53 GAA against the Red Wings.

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