Tonawanda News — DETROIT — The Detroit Red Wings had a successful debut as an Eastern Conference team, scoring early and holding on late.
Pavel Datsyuk and Mikael Samuelsson scored 36 seconds apart midway through the first period and Detroit beat the Buffalo Sabres 2-1 Wednesday night in the season-opener for both teams.
“When you start off at home, you always want the first goal and we got two,” Samuelsson said. “After that, we slowed down.”
Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard turned the puck over, allowing Zemgus Girgensons to score in his NHL debut with 7:24 left in the game.
Howard tried to clear the puck from behind his net, but it hit Buffalo’s Brian Flynn and popped over the net to set up Girgensons’ backhander that pulled the Sabres within a goal.
“It was unfortunate that it hit him and ended right on the guy’s stick,” Howard said. “My bad.”
Howard made 19 saves, playing an Atlantic Division game against the young Sabres.
Buffalo had a two-man power play for 1:31 early in the first period and for 51 seconds late in the second, but couldn’t take advantage. In between those 5-on-3 opportunities, the Sabres were scoreless on three power plays.
“It could’ve been a difference-maker for our team, and it wasn’t,” Buffalo forward Steve Ott said.
Ryan Miller gave up goals on the fifth and sixth shots he faced and finished with 32 saves. He didn’t seem to have much of a chance on either goal.
Samuelsson swiped the puck out of the air and into the net off a centering pass from Cory Emmerton 12:05 into the game.
“It was pretty,” Miller said. “You’d think it was prettier if it didn’t happen to you.”
Datsyuk got a giveaway in the Sabres end, skated between the circles and backhanded a shot that Miller appeared to not see until it was too late at 12:41 of the first.