DETROIT – Red Wings coach Mike Babcock admitted that Detroit is not yet in regular-season form.
Don’t worry. The Stanley Cup champions will get there soon enough.
“We’re not ready yet, but we will be,” Babcock said. “The first 20 games is so vital in the National Hockey League. You get your confidence.”
Ty Conklin made 21 saves, and Johan Franzen scored two goals in Detroit’s 3-0 win over the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday night. It was the final exhibition game for each team.
The Red Wings will open the regular season Thursday against Toronto at home.
Ville Leino also scored for Detroit (6-1-2) and Nicklas Lidstrom assisted on all three goals.
Pavel Datsyuk and Tomas Holmstrom returned to the lineup after each missed time due to groin injuries. They will make up the Red Wings’ top line along with free agent acquisition Marian Hossa, who didn’t play Sunday.
“It looks like everything is fine. It’s better if I play a couple of games before, but there was just one,” Datsyuk said. “Top line not together … It’s a long, long season and we’re looking forward. There’s lots of chances to play together.”
Conklin got the shutout, but a puck did get past him.
Television replays showed Derek Roy’s shot off a goal-mouth scramble got past Conklin and into the net. But Red Wings defenceman Brian Rafalski knocked it out, and play continued. When a stoppage came a little over a minute later, replays showed the Joe Louis Arena crowd that the puck was in the net. Despite that, the goal wasn’t allowed.
“They told me they had no video replay on it … (Conklin) said he didn’t see it either,” Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff said. “It’s tough. Ty Conklin has been tough on us, we get one and it doesn’t count.”
Ryan Miller stopped 23 shots for Buffalo (2-4-1).
Franzen opened the scoring 2:54 into the third period, and Leino scored his third exhibition goal just 1:52 later. Franzen added an empty-netter, his fifth goal, with one second left.
Notes: The Red Wings assigned C Justin Abdelkader, C Cory Emmerton, RW Jan Mursak and LW Mattias Ritola to Grand Rapids of the AHL after the game.