With a two game winning streak on the line and playoff hopes looking dim, the Sabres found a way to hold on and defeat the New Jersey Devils in a shootout by a 3-2 score at the First Niagara Center on Sunday.
Ryan Miller stopped 37 of 39 shots and all three shootout attempts, giving the Sabres their third win in as many games.
“[Miller’s] been pretty solid for us this last stretch,” head coach Ron Rolston said. “He’s starting to feel good about his game.”
The Devils came into the game with a 0-3-3 record in the past six after losing to Toronto on Saturday night, while the Sabres were off, but they earned a point.
Patrick Kaleta scored early in the first period, giving him his first goal and point of the season. Kaleta hadn’t scored since February 8th, 2012 and had 53 scoreless games until this one.
“It feels good to be able to contribute out there,” Kaleta said. “I’m not going to be toe-dragging people, so my job is to get in front of the net. That’s the way I’m going to score my goals.”
The Devils are now 3-13-6 when the opponent gets on the board first, and even though the Sabres couldn’t hold a lead, Buffalo held on and got to a shootout.
After a couple minutes of consistent pressure in the Sabres’ zone, Steve Sullivan tied the game for the Devils on the power play.
The Sabres would go back in front after Cody Hodgson and Nathan Gerbe set up a nice passing play and Steve Ott finished it off, beating Brodeur and giving the Sabres a 2-1 lead.
With an assist tonight, Steve Ott now has a point in each of his last five games against the Devils.
“I thought we played pretty solid,” Ott said. “When we have a goaltender like that backstopping us, it makes everybody a little more confident on the ice.”
Ott had a chance to win the game in the shootout, but Martin Brodeur jumped out of the crease and stopped him.
The Devils tied the game thanks to Mark Fayne, who scored his first goal of the season while the Sabres were on a power play. The Sabres have now allowed a league high seven shorthanded goals.
April has been the Sabres most successful month in recent years, posting a 26-11-3 record since the 2005-06 season, and a 3-0 start to this one.
You can listen to Rolston’s press conference here:
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The Sabres will travel to Winnipeg to take on the Jets on Tuesday night.
“We have to go up into one of the harder buildings in the league on Tuesday against a team who is fighting for its lives to get in, so we have to understand that and we have to be ready,” Rolston said.
That game is scheduled to start at 8 p.m.