Devils Slay Sabres in Monday Night Home Matchup

It might have been a Monday night. It might have been a match up between two teams that aren’t headed for the playoffs. All in all, it seemed like a pretty meaningless game.

Even if the final score leaving Prudential Center last night was irrelevant, the New Jersey Devils put up a strong performance against the Buffalo Sabres to earn their 29th win of the season. Surprisingly, most of the game was fun and exciting to watch, minus one minor mishap by Cory Schneider. Luckily for him, his dominant performance outshined that first mistake.

What Went Right for the Devils

With a final score of 3-1, it was a relatively low scoring game, but all the Devils goals were fun to watch. The action was started less than two minutes into the first when Blake Coleman jammed the net in front of Buffalo goaltender Linus Ullmark to give the Devils a 1-0 lead. After a scoreless second, the Devils entered the third tied 1-1 with the Sabres, until a Pavel Zacha shot off the top circle broke the tie and gave the Devils a lead they wouldn’t relinquish once again. The insurance goal came from a Miles Wood empty netter that had its own deflection off of the glass in the final two minutes. Coleman added to his career-high totals, with his 22nd goal of the season, while Zacha has his third point in as many games since coming back from an injury.

Forward Pavel Zacha fired off a team high 4-shots in last nights 3-2 victory. -Getty Images

More impressive for the Devils is that both their goals before the empty netter came on the power play. Their power play has been pretty bad this season, clocking in at 20th in the NHL. Still, over the past few months the Devils have had even more difficulty scoring on the man advantage. To see them break through on the power play not once, but twice, was a welcomed sight to see, and further proves that a healthy Zacha is a power play threat.

The Devils strong penalty kill also continued their own success, as they killed off all three Buffalo power plays.

What Went Wrong for the Devils

You don’t need me to say it, chances are you already know what it is. If you don’t, I’m talking about the Sam Reinart goal in the first period that tied the game.

Reinhart’s 20th goal of the season came off of a neutral zone turnover for the Devils. Reinhart shot the puck from the neutral zone, and it beat Cory Schneider on his left side, hitting the back of the net and tying the game.
Let me say that again. The puck was shot from the neutral zone, and still went in.

That ended up being the only goal that Buffalo got past Schneider, but it sure was a painful one. During the post game interview, Cory was able to joke about it being the second neutral ice goal of his career (he allowed one in an early season match up vs Toronto in the 2016-2017 season) before adding he hopes that was the last one. He’s not the only one wishing we don’t see that again.

Cory Schneider’s Dominant Performance

Cory Schneider hasn’t tallied a regular season win in almost a full year. -Getty Images

We can talk about that bad goal all we want. And it’ll sure to be talked about a lot as “what not to do as a hockey goalie 101,” but the night was still a massive success for Schneider. Buffalo had 46 shots in Schneider’s direction, with only Reinhart’s going in. After not having a regulation win in over a year, we’ve been seeing vintage Schneider since that first win in Minnesota to break his unlucky streak. He skated off the ice with the first star of the game and a .980 save percentage. That’s almost enough to make us forget about that goal. Keyword, “almost.”


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