Tyler Myers returned with a vengeance Wednesday night against the New Jersey Devils, but the rest of the Sabres lagged behind on their way to a 5-3 loss inside of First Niagara Center.
Buffalo found itself in trouble early on in the first period. While on the power play, three different Sabres lost the puck after a fight in their corner, which Devils’ captain Zach Parise picked up and fired point blank past Jhonas Enroth.
Less than four minutes later, the Devils cashed in on a power play when Ilya Kovalchuk threw a wrister from the faceoff circle into the Buffalo net, putting New Jersey up 2-0.
The Sabres managed to answer back with 1:05 left in the period while on the power play. Myers, who played his first game since being a healthy scratch on Monday, tapped in the puck past Martin Brodeur after a mad scramble in front of the Devils’ net.
Despite the boost which came from their first tally, the Sabres gave up the next goal at 8:36 in the second period. After winning a faceoff in the Buffalo zone, Devils defenseman Mark Fayne launched a slapshot which soared into the topshelf as Enroth was screened by multiple players.
Myers drew attention to himself once again in the second period when he took out New Jersey defenseman Dainus Zubrus on a hard hit where he elbowed Zubrus in the head. Although a penalty was not called, Myers may very well be on his way to a hearing with Brendan Shanahan.
The Devils did not let that slow them down, however, and they added to their lead early in the third period. After winning a battle along the boards in the Buffalo zone, the puck came to Patrick Elias on the opposite side, who wired a slapshot for New Jersey’s fourth goal on the night.
Myers got the Sabres back in it at 7:35 in the third period after he received a pass from Nathan Gerbe on an odd-man rush and shot it over Brodeur’s right shoulder for his second goal on the night and on the season.
But the Sabres failed to capitalize, and less than a minute later New Jersey regained its three-goal lead. Devils forward David Clarkson collected the puck on a breakaway after it flew off a broken Buffalo stick, and scored on a backhand.
That ended Enroth’s night, who gave up more than two goals for the first time in a start this season, and was pulled in favor of Rochester call-up Drew MacIntyre with 11:37 left on the clock.
Buffalo continued to battle, and even added a third goal on the night by Jordan Leopold with less than five minutes remaining. However it proved too little and too late for the Sabres, who could not beat Brodeur again before the final buzzer.
Brodeur was especially impressive in the contest, stopping 29 of 32 shots and robbing the Sabres on a number of brilliant scoring opportunities.
The loss is a tough one for Buffalo, who beforehand seemed to be reinvigorated following their comeback win over Montreal just two nights ago. The Sabres will take a day off before flying out to Carolina to meet with the Hurricanes inside of RBC Center for the teams’ second meeting on the season.