The Buffalo Sabres failed to hold off the New Jersey Devils on Thursday, giving up two third period goals and eventually losing 3-2, after a shootout. Capturing one point gives the Sabres two points out of a possible six as they are three games into their four game road trip. The victory for New Jersey snaps their six game losing streak and keeps them one point ahead of Rangers in the Atlantic Division.
The Buffalo Sabres came out in the first period against the Devils and played one of their more well balanced periods of the season. Buffalo applied descent pressure offensively with crisp passes and good speed which kept New Jersey on its heels for good portions of the period.
Defensively, Buffalo was solid around Jhonas Enroth letting him build up his confidence and giving him time to shake off some of the rust. When it came time for Enroth to step up, he was up to the task. Just over half way through the period the Devils skated down the ice where Adam Henrique found himself to the right of the Buffalo net. Enroth made a terrific pad save and an equally good save on the rebound shot from Patrick Elias. The first period ended with no score.
The second period saw Buffalo put steady pressure New Jersey and Johan Hedberg. The strong play paid off when Anton Volchenkov had to take a two minute penalty for tripping Brian Flynn. Forty seconds into the penalty Steve Ott and Tyler Ennis were battling along the boards to the left of Hedberg when Ennis found Thomas Vanek in front of the net.
Vanek blasted a one timer past Hedberg for the 1-0 lead and the teams second power play in the last two games, it was Vanek’s team leading 13th of the year. The Devils took over play for much of the remainder of the period, but once again Jhonas Enroth came up big keeping the Devils off the scoreboard.
After surviving a flurry by New Jersey to start the third period, it was Buffalo’s turn to apply pressure. After swarming around the New Jersey net, Marcus Foligno sent a pass to the right point to Andre Sekera who blasted a shot toward the net. Brian Flynn picked up the bouncing puck and put it past Johan Hedberg for his first NHL career goal making it 2-0.
The Devils began to show their desperation and picked up their play for the remainder of the game. With Christian Ehrhoff in the penalty box for holding, Adam Henrique picked up a pass from Ilya Kovalchuk at the top of the face off circle and blasted a shot at Enroth.
Mike Weber stepped in front of the shot but Henrique grabbed the rebound and put it past Enroth for his 7th of the year at the 13:30 mark. The Sabres tried to hold off the Devils for the remainder of the period but with just over a minute left in the third, David Clarkson found Patrick Elias skating to the left of the Sabre net minder where he put it past Enroth to tie the game at two. On the play Enroth slid across the crease awkwardly and had to be helped off the ice.
Ryan Miller came in for rest of the third and overtime session and continued his strong play as of late. Each team had several chances to end the game in overtime but each goal keeper kept their respective teams in the game. The Sabres couldn’t pull off the same shootout magic that they had last Saturday afternoon when the two teams last played each other.
After misses by Thomas Vanek and the Devils’ Ilya Kovalchuk, David Clarkson and Patrick Elias each scored on Miller with Jason Pominville missing his opportunity. The Sabres let the game slip away, but managed to grab a crucial point on the road.
The Buffalo Sabres will finish their four game road trip when they travel to Philadelphia for a Sunday evening contest against the Flyers.