OPINION: Levi stops Larkin in final round of shootout to preserve Buffalo's win in Detroit

The win keeps Buffalo's faint playoff hopes alive

(WGR 550) – There’s a lot to unpack from Thursday’s game in Detroit, but the bottom line is the Buffalo Sabres found a way to beat the Red Wings and get two points.

It all came down to Devon Levi in his first NHL shootout going up against Detroit’s captain and 32-goal scorer Dylan Larkin. Levi made the save, and Buffalo had its 7-6 victory.

Levi allowed Lucas Raymond to score on Detroit’s first attempt in the shootout, but he stopped David Perron and Larkin in Rounds 2 and 3.

Unlike in the Sabres' last shootout, head coach Don Granato went with his three best shooters, and Jack Quinn and Alex Tuch both scored.

The Sabres will still be alive in the playoff race on April 8 when they faceoff at home against the Carolina Hurricanes. However, the out-of-town scoreboard wasn’t kind to the Sabres on Thursday, as the New York Islanders, Florida Panthers and Pittsburgh Penguins all won.

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The bottom line is Buffalo found a way to win this crazy game. The Sabres blew two different two-goal leads, and completely lost their poise once Dylan Cozens scored his second goal and 31st of the season to give Buffalo a 6-4 lead.

Buffalo spent the rest of the third period turning the puck over and putting the game squarely on Levi in his third NHL start.

Ilya Lyubushkin made a poor pass to Tyson Jost breaking up the middle of the ice next to his own net. It was a horrible decision, and it went right to Matt Luff, who fed Jonatan Berggren, who was behind Levi for an empty net tally.

Buffalo still had a one-goal lead, but they continued to turn the puck over and give Detroit golden opportunities. Levi held strong until with one minute left in regulation, Detroit won the draw and Perron ripped a one-timer that Levi simply missed.

Buffalo was better in overtime, but Tuch and Rasmus Dahlin missed wide-open chances. Levi saved the day, as he stopped Berggren on a breakaway as time was about to expire.

The Sabres got to their game right away in the first period. Tuch missed on a penalty shot opportunity, but the Sabres were playing fast and produced 16 shots and three goals.

Granato wanted to save some wear and tear on Tage Thompson, who is playing injured. He decided to put him on the wing with Cozens and Jordan Greenway, and it worked very well.

Thompson opened the scoring, ripping home a one-timer for his 45th of the season.

Casey Mittelstadt stayed with Tuch and Jeff Skinner, and they were great too.

Tuch set up Henri Jokiharju, and Cozens scored his 30th on the power play after the Red Wings lost their minds on Jeff Skinner and put themselves shorthanded for four minutes.

Early in the second, Zemgus Girgensons tipped home a goal that made it 4-2, Buffalo, but the Sabres allowed the Red Wings to take over and it was 4-4 after 40 minutes.

Greenway and Cozens gave Buffalo its two-goal cushion back, but that’s when the turnover fest started.

This game was so weird. There were long stretches where the Sabres were playing fast and creating offense, and then there were stretches where they were awful and couldn’t make the simplest plays.

The bottom line was, in the end, the Sabres needed two points and they got them. Despite being 5-1-1 in their last seven games, the Sabres are still six points out of a playoff spot with five to play.

Buffalo went 4-0-0 against the Red Wings this season, winning with four different goalies. In four games, Thompson had nine points, while Cozens had seven.

Owen Power had three assists in this game, while Mittelstadt had two. No. 37 has nine assists in his last six games.

Saturday’s game against the Hurricanes is a 12:35 p.m. ET faceoff, but join me and Brian Koziol, as we’ll be joined by general manager Kevyn Adams at 11:40 a.m. ET.

Photo credit Losi and Gangi
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