The Buffalo Sabres failed to duplicate their overtime triumph over the Toronto Maple Leafs a night earlier and fell to the New Jersey Devils in the extra stanza, 1-0. Sabres’ net minder Jhonas Enroth did all he could do to grab the two points for his team, but the inefficiencies of the offense and a strong New Jersey defense led the Sabres’ downfall.
The first period began like so many other of the Sabres games this season, with a flurry deep inside their own zone by the opposition. After Buffalo weathered the storm from New Jersey’s initial burst, the play became a bit more even with defensive zone play from each team setting the tone for the period. Buffalo had a modest victory in the first period of tonight’s contest by holding their opponent off the scoreboard and not giving up the early lead. The Sabres thus far this season have been outscored in the first period by a 33 to 6 margin. While the Devils started off the period with the edge in play and had a couple of great scoring chances, including a point blank chance by former Sabres forward Steve Bernier, Buffalo played a decent opening period defensively giving up only nine shots on goal. The Sabres struggles continued in the offensive zone however, mustering only three shots of their own in the first. The scoreless first period came to an end with Sabre Christian Ehrhoff in the penalty box serving two minutes for interference.
The second period began much the same way as the first with each team having some good scoring chances and both goaltenders coming up with some big saves. New Jersey’s Cory Schneider with his 1.89 goals against average came up big when called upon and the Sabre’s Jhonas Enroth made a few point blank saves to keep the game scoreless. Buffalo again showed why their fifteen percent efficiency on the power play is near the bottom of the league when they failed to score after the Devils gave them three consecutive man-advantages. The game remained scoreless after two.
The Buffalo Sabres seemed to open play up a little more to start the third and while spending more time in the Devil’s zone, they also gave up some tremendous scoring opportunities to New Jersey. Jhonas Enroth was superb in the period including stealing a goal away from Travis Zajac of the Devils with just over seven minutes remaining in the period. On a pretty passing play from New Jersey, Zajac found himself alone in front of Enroth where the Buffalo net minder made an amazing glove save to keep the game scoreless.
Four on four play in the five minute overtime session continued to provide the game with end to end rushes and great goal tending on a limited number of shots. With just under a minute to play before a shoot out would determine the outcome, New Jersey had a break through. At the 4:19 mark of the extra session, Steve Bernier brought the puck in over the blue line and as two Sabres defensemen backed off, Bernier wristed a laser into the corner of the net to give New Jersey their second victory in as many nights. It was Bernier’s second goal of the season with assists coming from Andy Greene and Adam Henrique. The two points helps the Devils regain some ground in the Metropolitan Division of the Eastern Conference after losing three out of their last four.
The clubs will meet two more times this season with both being played at the First Niagara Center in Buffalo.
The Buffalo Sabres are off until Thursday, when they host the New York Rangers at the First Niagara Center. Puck drops at 7 PM, and the game will be broadcast on MSG.