Riding a four-game point streak and going 2-0-2 during that stretch, the Buffalo Sabres took the road to take on the New Jersey Devils on Monday night, looking to take the series lead against the closest team to them in the Mass Mutual East Division™ standings. It was the second-to-last match-up of the 2020-21 season between the two teams.
The Sabres looked like they had some pep in their step to start the first period, as they have no doubt gained some confidence over the last number of games here. Despite a decent start to the game, however, it was the Devils who would strike first, with Damon Severson scoring less than five minutes in on a juicy rebound off the right pad of Sabres netminder Linus Ullmark. Tyce Thompson, younger brother of Sabres forward Tage, recorded the assist in his NHL debut.
It didn’t take long for things to even up, though, as Rasmus Asplund potted one for himself thanks to a nice dish from Casey Mittelstadt, who is on his own personal points streak. With things evened out at 1-1, the game was wide open again.
Not much transpired until late in the opening frame, when Sabres dman, Brandon Montour, scored after picking up a blocked shot to put the Sabres up 2-1. Tage Thompson and Colin Miller picked up the assists on the goal. That lead turned out not to hold up for too long, as the Devils beat Ullmark with less than one second left in the period, tying things at 2 heading into the second period.
Both teams would skate comfortably with a tie score for most of the beginning of the middle frame, until the Devils’ Pavel Zacha scored on a pass from Jesper Bratt to regain the lead for the Devils, 3-2.
The Sabres were playing from behind once again until Rasmus Dahlin, who has enjoyed much more offensive freedom of late, capitalized on a loose puck to rip it past Devils goalie Scott Wedgewood for his third goal of the season. Riley Sheahan and Kyle Okposo notched the helpers on his tally, giving Okposo points in seven of his last eight games now. The score was even again, at 3-3.
Heading into the third period tied once again, the Sabres were looking to finish out the game in convincing fashion. Their record was not good this season when their opponent scored first, but then again, this has been a different team over the last week or so.
About halfway through the third period, Casey Mittelstadt took advantage on a Sabres power play to put his team up 4-3, with Dahlin recording an assist. Both players continued their personal hot streaks, and added their second points of the game respectively.
The Sabres would skate with a 4-3 lead for most of the remainder of the game, until the Devils pulled their goalie and Rasmus Ristolainen banked in an empty net goal from his own end of the ice for his fourth marker of the year, to put the Sabres up 5-3 and seal the first win of the week.
Although the Sabres were outshot in every period and by a total of 30-18 in Tuesday night’s game, Linus Ullmark impressed once again with 27 saves, and the players who needed to step up did yet another time.
The Sabres improve to 9-23-6 on the season, and look for their tenth win on Thursday as they play their last game against the Devils during the regular season. While there is not much left to play for except for pride, the Sabres now find themselves on a five-game point streak, going 3-0-2 in those games and showing many positives in time for next year.