Howard in for Bernier; Wings lose 5-1 to Sabres
Buffalo center Zemgus Girgensons scores on Jimmy Howard in the first period Sunday.
The Red Wings lost 5-1 to the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday. And yet another key player could be lost to injury.
Goalie Jonathan Bernier had sparked Detroit’s two consecutive wins coming into the game and three in a row at home.
Coach Jeff Blashill said Bernier was scheduled to start Sunday even though he suffered an undisclosed injury late in Friday night’s 3-2 shootout win over the Ottawa Senators. But he said he felt worse when he woke up on Sunday and could not play.
Jimmy Howard was the last-minute starter and allowed a goal on Buffalo’s first shot, two goals in the first five minutes and three goals on 12 shots in the first period (he stopped 22 of 27 shots overall). Howard, who last won on Oct. 29, has a sub-.900 save percentage.
“Jimmy looked great in practice yesterday, but he wasn't expecting to play,” Blashill said.
He said Bernier will undergo tests on Monday.
Sabres forward Evan Rodrigues came into the game with no goals in 25 games this season but had two in the first 300 seconds. He beat Howard on the Sabres’ first shot 2:39 into the game and on the power play at the five-minute mark.
Zemgus Girgensons added a shorthanded goal with 7:17 left in the first period when he took advantage of Filip Zadina’s bad pass attempt to Robby Fabbri – who tried to dive and corral the puck but was unsuccessful – at the Buffalo blue line and was off on a breakaway.
“You never ever leave your feet in that position,” Blashill said. “You can't leave your feet as the top guy because of exactly what happened. If you don't get it, it is a breakaway.”
Madison Bowey made it 3-1 with 8:04 left in the second period, but the Sabres iced it with two goals in the first 3:40 of the third period, both by defensemen – Zach Bogosian at 2:35 and a power-play effort by Rasmus Ristolainen at 3:40.
“That was the game: the start of the first and the start of the third,” Dylan Larkin said. “ …The two goals in the third were killers.”
The Red Wings had plenty of chances to score in the second period, outshooting the Sabres 11-3, but could not get another one past Buffalo goalie Linus Ullmark.
“Yeah, there were a few,” Bowey said of the chances in the middle period. “I think that’s hockey. Sometimes the bounces don’t go your way.”
Detroit recalled goalie Calvin Pickard from AHL Grand Rapids under emergency conditions. He backed up Howard on Sunday.