Only needing two rounds in the shootout, the New Jersey Devils downed the Buffalo Sabres inside the Prudential Center on Tuesday evening 2-1.
Michal Neuvirth stopped 34-of-35 shots including the last 31 shots he faced from the Devils, while his counterpart stopped 24-of-25 shots.
Early on the New Jersey Devils received a goal in the first period from longtime NHL veteran Patrik Elias. As Marek Zidlicky gained the zone he received a pass from Adam Henrique. Zidlicky quickly released a shot that was heading wide of the Neuvirth but Elias was able to gain position in front of the net and deflect it past the committed Sabres goalie. Elias’ tip-in goal on the powerplay was his ninth goal on the season and second while on the man advantage. The goal was scored with one second remaining on Brian Gionta’s holding penalty at 6:18 into the first period.
The Sabres were outshot 9-5 in the first period while penalties were split at one per team. In a scoreless second period Buffalo outshot New Jersey 12-9 as both teams committed only one minor penalty in the period.
27 seconds into the third period Tyler Ennis found the back of the net to knot the game at one. Following a faceoff win, Zemgus Girgensons fed a pass to a surging Ennis who slotted a wrist shot under the blocker of Devils goaltender Cory Schneider. The goal was Ennis’ 14th goal of the year and second in five games.
Teams exchanged penalties in the third period again, but to no avail on the scoreboard as the game remained deadlocked at one goal apiece. With 3:32 remaining in the third period Zach Bogosian had a shot saved by Schneider which propelled Henrique on a breakaway opportunity before Bogosian hauled down the Devils centerman causing a penalty shot opportunity against the Blue and Gold.
Neuvirth was able to preserve a tie for the Sabres as he stood tall against the penalty shot late in the third period. Neither team was able to break the tie through the final 3:32 of the third period and five-minute overtime period.
In the shootout period Scott Gomez went first for the New Jersey Devils and was able to deke out a diving Neuvirth while slipping the puck behind his outstretched pad and into the net. Matt Moulson was the first shooter for the Sabres and his shot was stopped by Schneider.
The second round saw Jacob Josefson go to a quick backhanded shot and beat Neuvirth for a 2-0 lead with Ennis up next to shoot. In the second round, Ennis went with a quick wrister inside the slot which was stopped by Schneider and earn the extra point for the Devils.
The Sabres have won only two games in the last 21 game span while Neuvirth has not earned a win since November 15th, a 6-2 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Buffalo returns to action on Thursday at 7 p.m. as they travel to the Wells Fargo Center with a matchup against the Philadelphia Flyers.