BUFFALO, N.Y. – Jiri Hudler saw the backhander work for Pavel Datsyuk so he gave it a try.
He really liked the result.
Hudler followed Datsyuk’s goal in the shootout with one of his own after scoring the tying goal with 58 seconds left in the third period, and the Detroit Red Wings beat the Buffalo Sabres 3-2 Saturday night for their fifth straight road win.
Datsyuk also scored in regulation as the Red Wings overcame a 2-0, first-period deficit.
“I told Pavel he did a great job on the move on the first one,” Hudler said. “Then I took his idea. I didn’t think (Miller) was going to guess we’d do the same move.”
Datsyuk and Hudler both went to the right side and used backhanded shots to beat Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller in the shootout. Detroit backup Joey MacDonald, who stopped 30 shots, made shootout saves on Drew Stafford and Thomas Vanek.
“We had two pretty good shooters,” Detroit coach Mike Babcock added. “They both made great shots.”
Hudler’s goal with time running out in regulation completed Detroit’s comeback from 2-0 down in the first period.
“We felt fortunate that we had some real good chances down the stretch,” Babcock said. “I felt it was a reward for working real hard in the second and third.”
Andrej Sekera and Mike Grier scored for Buffalo, which failed in its bid to win a third straight game for new owner Terry Pegula.
Miller made 35 saves as the Sabres made up one point on Carolina, which lost to Montreal, for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Buffalo (65) now trails the Hurricanes (67) by two with two games in hand.
“I think we sort of hit a wall at a certain point,” said Miller, who went 2-3-1 despite a 1.83 goals against average with a .945 save percentage in the Sabres’ six-game homestand. “We had our chances to win but we kept the door open. We played too much in our zone in the second and third periods.”
Sekera, who sat the last three games as a healthy scratch, opened the scoring with 7:05 left in the first period. He took possession of the puck in his own zone and streaked up the right side, ending the rush with a backhander from the circle which went over MacDonald’s left shoulder.
Two minutes later, Grier bumped the lead to 2-0 on a tap-in from the slot after receiving a crisp pass by Sekera from the left corner. Grier, who also scored Friday against Ottawa, netted goals in back-to-back games for the first time since October 2009.
During the game’s first power play early in the second period, Miller made four saves and was also helped by Niklas Kronwall and Dan Cleary each clanging shots off goal posts.
Datsyuk got Detroit on the board midway through the second during their next man-advantage. He wristed in a rebound after his initial shot was blocked.
Detroit’s Mike Modano played in his first game after missing 41 games with a slashed wrist, and Valtteri Filppula returned after an eight-game absence because of a knee injury. Both were in the starting lineup for Detroit, and Modano took the game’s first shot on a backhander 14 seconds in.
“(The wrist) is OK,” Modano said. “(My) legs and lungs, those are going to hurt for a little while.”
Detroit improved to 5-0 against the Northeast Division. The win was a gratifying start to a five-game road trip which will continue with four straight games against Pacific Division opponents.
“We’ve been good on the road and no good at home recently,” Babcock said. “It’s always nice to win. I don’t care if it’s at home or on the road. (It makes) the flight half as long.”
Buffalo will embark on a seven-game road trip starting Tuesday at the New York Rangers. The trek will match the longest in team history; they also had seven-game trips in 2008 and 2010.
NOTES: Before this season, the most games Modano had even missed in a season was 30, in 1997-98 with Dallas. … Buffalo D Jordan Leopold was scratched with an upper body injury. He missed his first game of the season. … Detroit F Drew Miller, the brother of Sabres goalie Ryan, was a healthy scratch. … Buffalo has scored a power play goal in only two of its last nine games. … The Sabres are 35-12 against the Red Wings all-time at home, with eight ties and one shootout loss. … Earlier Saturday, Buffalo captain Craig Rivet was claimed on re-entry waivers by Columbus.