Tonight, the Buffalo Sabres hosted the New Jersey Devils at the First Niagara Center.
From the first puck drop, it was evident that tonight would be a typical match-up with the Devils. There would be a lot of trapping, which leads to dumping and chasing for the puck.
While the Sabres came out and really controlled the physical side of things, New Jersey slowed the entire game down with their style of play.
To further illustrate the inactivity in the first, New Jersey outshot Buffalo, 7-4 and no goals were scored.
The second period would not provide much of a spark, as the Sabres played on their heels for most of the period and struggled with the Devils’ trapping.
The tides would change, late in the period, when Devils foward Andrei Loktionov was called for tripping Brayden McNabb.
On the following power play, the Sabres turned the offensive pressure up to 11. Multiple tape-to-tape passes, and then a crashing Tyler Ennis would shoot the puck. The resulting rebound would be put away by Matt Moulson.
The goal was Moulson’s 14th of the season, at 19:29, and the Sabres found themselves up 1-0. Ennis and Ehrhoff would be credited with the assists.
“You just got to find a way to get those dirty goals,” said Moulson.
Following forty minutes, the score would remain in Sabres’ favor. Buffalo also found themselves outshooting New Jersey, 16-14.
The Sabres began the final frame, apparently in protect-the-lead mode. That was made apparent by their one shot in the first half of the period.
Excitement was at an absolute minimum, until Mike Weber came across the middle and walloped Andrei Loktionov near center ice. It appeared as if Loktionov had been skating with his head down.
Almost immediately there after, Mike Weber was challenged by Ryan Clowe. Although the hit appeared to be very clean, Clowe took exception to it, and sent out the challenge.
A few minutes after Weber’s fight, a brain cramp put the Sabres on the penalty kill, when they were caught with too many men on the ice.
Just 59 seconds later, the Sabres would find themselves down to three men, as Tyler Myers was called for an illegal check to the head. In replays, it is clear that Myers’ feet leave the ice and his shoulder makes direct contact with Dainius Zubrus’ head.
It wouldn’t New Jersey long to make Buffalo pay for their misdeed.
At 7:46, only 44 seconds after Myers took his penalty, a pass from Travis Zajac to Michael Ryder would produce the equalizer. The Devils first goal of the game was Ryder’s 13th of the season.
Things would calm down for a few minutes, until Dainius Zubrus took an interference penalty at 10:03.
With time quickly evaporating on the man advantage, Buffalo went into all-out crash mode. The Sabres made a point to crash Cory Schneider, in hopes of creating some sort of offensive pressure. That plan certainly worked itself out. As Matt D’Agostini would find a loose puck, and he would put it home for his first goal of the season, and the Sabres second of the game at 11:49.
“I’ve been skating good and getting shots,” said D’Agostini. “Getting inside and getting to the net is where you get most goals in this league.”
This goal was D’Agostini’s first as a Buffalo Sabre, and it also netted Linus Omark an assist, which was his first point as a Buffalo Sabre.
Buffalo would tighten the reigns defensively as the game progressed, and would end up taking the victory over the New Jersey Devils.
“These guys are starting to care for one another,” said Ted Nolan.
With this win, Buffalo is now 12-26-4 on the season, with 28 points. Tonight’s win extends the Sabres’ home winning streak to 5 straight games. This is longest home winning streak for the Sabres since February 19 – March 12, 2012.
Buffalo plays next on Tuesday night against the Carolina Hurricanes, at the First Niagara Center. Puck drops shortly after 7 PM, and the game will be broadcast on MSG.