(SportsNetwork.com) - Michal Neuvirth gave forth the type of effort last week that would have made fellow Czech goaltender Dominik Hasek proud, even if it did come in a loss.
Neuvirth and the Sabres look to honor their former franchise goaltender with a victory on Tuesday night as they take on the Detroit Red Wings after raising Hasek's number into the rafters.
Buffalo will lift Hasek's No. 39 as he becomes the sixth player in team history to have his number retired. Hasek won six Vezina Trophies with the Sabres and picked up back-to-back Hart Trophy awards in 1997-98, becoming the first goaltender in NHL history to capture the league's MVP award twice.
By the time Hasek left the Buffalo organization in the summer of 2001, Hasek owned franchise goaltender records with 491 games played, 234 wins, 55 shutouts and a 2.22 goals against average. He still holds the latter two, with Ryan Miller having surpassed him in games played and wins.
Hasek also won a pair of Stanley Cup titles with the Red Wings in 2002 and 2008.
Neuvirth is likely to get the honor of starting for the Sabres after they honor Hasek and is 2-2-1 versus Detroit with a 3.66 goals against average and .898 save percentage.
Neuvirth was in excellent form on Sunday in a 2-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning, keeping his club in the game with 45 saves. However, Buffalo still lost its seventh in a row, outscored 29-8 over that skid.
"So close. We were working hard," said Neuvirth. "Tough to swallow right now, but thought we gave it our best."
Cody McCormick had the lone goal, a short-handed tally, but gave the club a scare over the weekend when he was hospitalized for a blood clot. He has since been released from the hospital, but it is unknown when he will resume playing.
Forward Chris Stewart could also be out tonight as he has been unable to practice due to the flu, with Zac Dalpe and Philip Varone having been recalled from the American Hockey League.
Forward Torrey Mitchell could make a return to the lineup tonight for the Sabres, having missed 12 straight games after blocking a shot off his foot on Dec. 15.
Detroit suffered a pair of big losses over the weekend, first losing 3-1 to the Washington Capitals on Saturday. That setback was compounded by a groin injury sustained by Jimmy Howard just 1:53 into the game.
Howard appeared to hurt himself when he extended his leg to cover the post after trying to play the puck behind the net. He was forced to leave the ice on a stretcher.
The 30-year-old, a recently named All-Star, is 16-7-7 with a 2.11 GAA and .920 save percentage in 32 games this season. He is considered week-to-week and won't play in the upcoming All-Star Game.
Petr Mrazek, who like Hasek and Neuvirth is Czech, made 12 saves in relief of Howard on Saturday. He is 5-3-1 with a 2.29 GAA and .916 save percentage in nine games (7 starts) this season and beat the Sabres the only other time he faced them. That outing came on Dec. 23, a 6-3 win in which he allowed three goals on 16 shots.
Detroit did recall Tom McCollum from the AHL on Sunday after placing Howard on injured reserve.
Jonathan Ericsson scored the lone goal for the Red Wings on Saturday as they had a two-game win streak snapped while falling to 2-2-0 on a six-game road trip.
"Both goalies were good," said Red Wings forward Henrik Zetterberg. "Petr came in and played well and made some huge saves there in the third (period) to keep us in it. Obviously, their goalie played well too but we just have to bear down a little better when we get a chance."
Detroit forward Tomas Jurco sat out his second straight game with a back injury.
The Red Wings have won nine of their past 10 versus the Sabres and had taken four in a row in Buffalo prior to a 3-2 shootout setback on Nov. 2.