Pavel Datsyuk and Mikael Samuelsson scored 36 seconds apart midway through the first period and the Detroit Red Wings held on to beat the Buffalo Sabres 2-1 Wednesday night in the season-opener for both teams. 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.
Howard made 19 saves in Detroit's debut in the Eastern Conference, 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 held scoreless on three power plays. 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. 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.
The Red Wings didn't create a lot of chances the rest of the game, but they had a goal waved off because Daniel Cleary was called for interference against Miller. Detroit is hoping to start strong this season and finish better than it has the previous four years when it failed to get past the second round of the playoffs. The Red Wings seem to have a deep roster including a pair of newcomers, Daniel Alfredsson and Stephen Weiss.
Buffalo, meanwhile, is rebuilding. The Sabres played three teenagers: Girgensons, Mikhail Grigorenko and Rasmus Ristolainen. Buffalo selected Ristolainen, an 18-year-old defenseman from Finland, with the No. 8 pick in this year's draft. Grigorenko, who had five points in 25 games last season, and Girgensons were chosen in the first round last year.