Mrazek stops 25 shots in first start in place of injured Howard as Red Wings beat Sabres 3-1

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BUFFALO, New York — Peter Mrazek idolized Dominik Hasek while he was growing up in the Czech Republic.

Mrazek made sure to shake his boyhood idol's hand Tuesday night, then pocketed a puck commemorating the Hall of Fame goaltender after he made 25 saves in the Detroit Red Wings' 3-1 victory over the Buffalo Sabres.

"It's something special for me to remember the rest of my life," said Mrazek, who started in place of injured goaltender Jimmy Howard. "It's nice to meet the legend and the goalie who did so much stuff for our country and for himself."

Darren Helm, Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar scored for the Red Wings, who won three of four. Kyle Quincey had two assists.

Mike Weber scored for the Sabres, who have lost eight straight. Michal Neuvirth had 27 saves.

The Sabres honored Hasek by retiring his No. 39 in a pregame ceremony. Hasek starred for Buffalo from 1992-01, winning six Vezina Trophies and consecutive Hart Memorial Trophies in 1997 and 1998, before being traded to Detroit, where he won Stanley Cups in 2002 and 2008.

Hasek's number was painted behind both nets, and the goaltender matchup between Mrazek and Neuvirth featured two natives of the Czech Republic. Hasek led the Czech Republic to a gold medal at the Nagano Winter Games in 1998 and last year had his No. 9 retired in his Czech Republic hometown of Pardubice.

"It was a great honor for Dom and for us to be here was a special, special thing," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said.

Babcock encouraged Mrazek to greet Hasek coming off the ice following the pregame ceremony.

"Dom has had a significant impact on the game, especially in his country, so I thought it would be a real thrill for Pete to make that happen," Babcock said.

The Red Wings played for the first time since Howard injured his groin early in Saturday's loss at Washington. Howard is the Red Wings' second injured goalie. Jonas Gustavsson was placed on injured reserve Nov. 6 with a separated shoulder.

"We can't be happier with the way (Mrazek) is playing," Quincey said. "We're confident going forward that he can play well for us."

Detroit scored first after giving up the opening goal in its seven previous games. Helm's wrist shot from the right circle gave the Red Wings their first short-handed goal of the season and a 1-0 lead midway through the first period.

"That was important for us to get a good start, get the first one, and definitely after that ceremony, get the legs going," Quincey said.

The Sabres have given up a league-high seven short-handed goals this season, one of the reasons they have fallen into last place in the Eastern Conference.

"The power play should give you some momentum," Sabres coach Ted Nolan said. "Unfortunately, the way we are, it's taking momentum away."

The Red Wings scored their second goal in a power play 8 minutes into the second period when Nyquist backhanded a rebound past Neuvirth.

"The special teams was the difference tonight," Neuvirth said.

Buffalo got on the board later in the period when Drew Stafford fed Weber in front of the net for his first goal of the season.

Detroit went up 3-1 less than 2 minutes later when Tatar knocked in a rebound.

NOTES: Red Wings GM Ken Holland said Howard is expected to miss two to four weeks after an ultrasound confirmed an MRI's finding that Howard has a slightly torn groin muscle. ... Buffalo recalled F Matt Ellis from Rochester on Tuesday to replace Chris Stewart, who is out with the flu. ... Detroit called up G Tom McCollum from Grand Rapids to back up Mrazek. ... Sabres F Torrey Mitchell (foot) returned after missing 12 games. ... New Buffalo Bills coach Rex Ryan attended the game.

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