Red Wings end season with disappointing 7-1 loss to Sabres
Anthony Mantha, center, celebrates his goal against the Sabres with Tyler Bertuzzi (59) and Filip Hronek during the first period on Saturday. The goal was Mantha's 25th of the season, a career high.
Despite their outstanding play during most of the last three weeks of the season, the Red Wings ended 2018-19 on a sour note with a 7-1 loss to the Buffalo Sabres at Little Caesars Arena on Saturday night.
After winning eight of nine and six in a row, Detroit closed out the season with two straight losses. The Wings lost 4-1 on the road to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday night.
“It’s disappointing,” Dylan Larkin said.“I think both teams came out and didn’t really show any emotion or passion or anything. It was like a pond hockey game, and they ended up scoring more than us.They wanted it more tonight.
"It was a pretty forgettable night. It’s tough, especially with the way we’ve been playing in the past couple of weeks, to finish like this.”
The Red Wings finish 28th overall, 32-40-10 for 74 points, with a 9.5 percent chance to win the first pick in Tuesday’s NHL draft lottery. USA Hockey NTDP center Jack Hughes has been projected to be the first overall pick in the 2019 draft since before last year’s draft.
“The biggest thing is we better understand we got a whole bunch of people that have to get better, and we got a development plan for each player that’s returning, and we got to get better,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “If we take steps in the right direction, we have a chance to be a better team and maybe a lot better team. But if we plateau, no chance. So, let’s get better.”
Anthony Mantha scored Detroit’s only goal. It was his 25th of the season, which is a career high. Mantha had 24 goals last season.
“Personally, I think I took strides,” Mantha said. “I think a lot of guys in here took strides and hopefully we can bring it on a different level next year.”
Goaltender Kaden Fulcher made his NHL debut in relief of Jimmy Howard, who was mercifully pulled in the second period after Buffalo’s fifth goal.
Fulcher allowed two goals on 11 shots in 27:13 of action after Howard gave up five goals on 26 shots.
Jeff Skinner scored twice for Buffalo, and rookie defenseman Rasmus Dahlin had a goal and an assist. Sam Reinhart, Conor Sheary, Zemgus Girgensons and Brandon Montour also scored for Buffalo while goalie Linus Ullmark made 23 saves.
Larkin led the team in goals (32), assists (41), points (73) and penalty minutes (75) to become the first Detroit player to lead in each category in the same season since Johnny Sheppard did it for the Detroit Cougars in 1926-27, the franchise's first season in the NHL.
… The Tampa Bay Lightning tied the Red Wings' NHL record of 62 wins in a season – in 1995-96 – with a 6-3 win over the Boston Bruins on Saturday afternoon in Tampa Bay’s final game of the season.
… Detroit players will gather for the final time this season on Monday and clean out their lockers.