The Buffalo Sabres and Detroit Red Wings have opened the season well despite slow starts from two of the game’s rising stars.
However, the Sabres’ Tage Thompson and Lucas Raymond of the Red Wings both look to build on a much-needed strong performance when the teams meet Monday night in Buffalo.
Thompson enjoyed a breakout campaign with 38 goals and 30 assists in 2021-22 but had just a goal and two assists in his first seven contests. He added to his total in 2022-23 by scoring twice in the third period — and adding an overtime assist — in Buffalo’s 4-3 comeback victory against Chicago on Saturday.
It was the Sabres’ fifth win in eight games to open this season.
“I think it was a matter of time,” Thompson said. “If you’re getting chances, I think that’s all you can ask for. If you’re getting chances, I think they’re bound to go in.”
Thompson has just two goals with an assist in seven career games against Detroit, which swept the four-game 2021-22 season series from the Sabres. Three of those contests were decided in overtime.
Meanwhile, the Red Wings avoided a third straight defeat with Saturday’s 2-1 home win over Minnesota.
Raymond scored his first two goals for Detroit after recording just two assists through his first seven contests of the season. It was a welcome relief for Raymond, whose 57 points (23 goals, 34 assists) as a rookie last season ranked third on the team, and led to high expectations for this one.
“My focus is playing the right way,” Raymond said. “I know that good things will happen.”
Raymond was a big reason for the Red Wings’ success over Buffalo last season, recording two goals and four assists during those four meetings.
“He’s a key guy for us,” Detroit coach Derek Lalonde said. “With his minutes, and how he plays, we need quality play out of him.”
Detroit, which has four wins — and the same 10 points as Buffalo — from its first eight games this season, will try to win back-to-back contests for the first time since opening with victories over Montreal and New Jersey. Ville Husso made 30 saves Saturday and is 3-1-1 with a 2.40 goals-against average to begin his Red Wings career.
However, Detroit backup Alex Nedeljkovic has allowed 12 goals in his first three contests this season.
With 23 saves on Saturday for Buffalo, veteran Craig Anderson has a 1.66 goals-against average and .946 save percentage while winning all three of his 2022-23 starts. Meanwhile, teammate Eric Comrie has a 3.41 GAA while losing three of his first five starts this season.
Sabres defenseman and budding star Rasmus Dahlin recorded an assist on Saturday to increase his team lead to 10 points. Dahlin has posted two goals and seven assists in 11 career games versus Detroit.
Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin added two assists Saturday, and also has 10 points on the season. He’s registered 12 goals and eight assists in 24 career contests against the Sabres.
–Field Level Media