There were suggestions about being too cute and too cautious afterward, but most of all there was the chatter of celebration.

The Red Wings rolled out their fourth straight victory, a 3-2 win Friday against the Buffalo Sabres at Joe Louis Arena. It was not the prettiest performance, but the NHL isn’t judged on style points. By the end of the night, the Wings deposited another two points in their playoff piggy bank, shoring up seventh place in the Eastern Conference on goals from Darren Helm, Tomas Jurco and Daniel Alfredsson.

The Wings had a three-goal lead 16 minutes into the first period, then let the game get too interesting. Maybe it had to do with Pavel Datsyuk being back in the lineup for the first time in five weeks, giving the Wings more offensive potential, especially against an opponent that lost for the 47th time this season.

“We started really good, we were all over them,” coach Mike Babcock said. “Suddenly we had some skill and suddenly we were dangling around with the puck, and now we had cute-itis going and then we didn’t want to shoot it in the net, we wanted to pass it one more time. The next thing you know, it’s game on, instead of just doing things simple and hard and right.

“That was us feeling like we’re a pretty good team suddenly. Maybe we weren’t scared for the first time in two months.”

Babcock wasn’t sure whether Datsyuk would be available for today’s game at Montreal, because of how long he had been out. Alfredsson had missed Wednesday’s game with a sore back and was also considered questionable against the Canadiens.

It’s only the second time this season the Wings have won four games in a row. It looked like a sure-fire extension after a first period that the Wings so dominated Jimmy Howard barely saw the puck. But Buffalo used a power play in the second period to make it 3-1, with Jamie McBain scoring on a wrist shot, and the Wings barely counterattacked.

“We got a little bit ahead of ourselves in the second period,” Howard said, “and we got away from our game plan. But it’s just about getting two points right now.”

The Sabres made it 3-2 at 6:40 of the third on Nicolas Deslaurier’s shot from the slot.

“I think we probably tried to protect the lead too much and not trying to get the fourth one,” Alfredsson said. “They worked themselves into the game and are a dangerous team. They play pretty open. They spread us out a bit, but I thought down the stretch we did a good job.”

Alfredsson cited the time of the year and the magnitude of the game as reasons for the lapse.

“All those things combined I think makes for us being cautious more than playing hard for 60,” he said. “Before we feel like the underdog and we claw ourselves into games and find a way to win. Today we’re the favorites and didn’t handle it as well as we can.”