Red Wings beat Sabres 4-1, ending 7-game losing streak to boost chance at a wild-card spot

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DETROIT — The Detroit Red Wings earned a desperately needed win in their quest to make the playoffs for the first time in eight years and pushed Buffalo a little lower in the standings, increasing the Sabres’ chances of extending the NHL’s longest active postseason drought.

Patrick Kane scored a tiebreaking goal late in the second period and James Reimer stopped 25 shots, lifting Detroit to a 4-1 win over Buffalo on Saturday in a matchup of teams vying for an Eastern Conference wild-card spot.

“I thought our sense of urgency was just incredible,” Reimer said.

Detroit had lost seven straight games in regulation for the first time since the 2019-20 season. The slump dropped the Red Wings out of a favorable position to end a postseason drought that dates to 2016, giving a handful of teams, including Buffalo, hope for a wild-card spot.

“That’s two desperate teams going at it,” said Tage Thompson, who had a power play goal midway through the first period to put Buffalo ahead. “We’re on their heels. We’re chasing them.”

The Red Wings moved into the second of two wild-card spots — behind Tampa Bay and just ahead of the New York Islanders and Washington Capitals — with their first victory since capping a six-game winning streak on Feb. 27.

The Sabres, with 14 games left on their schedule, are five points behind Detroit in a chase that also includes New Jersey and Pittsburgh.

“There’s urgency at this time of year for everybody,” Buffalo coach Don Granato said.

Buffalo had won three straight, including a 7-3 win over Detroit, to improve its chances of rallying into a playoff spot for the first time since 2011 before getting shut down offensively in the second matchup in five days.

“They might have had some zone time in the third, but I’m not sure they even had two chances,” Red Wings coach Derek Lalonde said. “That’s always good, but especially against a team like that that just put up a touchdown on us.”

Christian Fischer pulled Detroit into a 1-all tie early in the second, scoring on a backhander with his right leg and hip on the ice.

“That’s just being a bad skater,” he said.

The Red Wings pulled away with two goals in the third period, taking a 3-1 lead with 6:08 left when Daniel Sprong scored — a game after he was a healthy scratch — with 6:08 remaining and sealing the victory with Lucas Raymond’s empty-net goal.

“They came out desperate and they really wanted it,” Buffalo’s Rasmus Dahlin said. “We were kind of on our heels, and we never really came back.”

Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen finished with 22 saves for Buffalo.

UP NEXT

Sabres: At Seattle on Monday night.

Red Wings: At Pittsburgh on Sunday night.

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AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/nhl

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