Game Time: 7:00 PM EST
Radio: WFAN 660 AM, 101.9 FM
The Devils (10-8-5) are desperate for a win, as they face-off against the Buffalo Sabres (9-13-2) for the second time in less than a week. Last Saturday, the Devils fell to the Sabres 4-3 in a shootout, in a game that featured a fair amount of trash-talking from both sides, most prominent being Adam Henrique and Ryan Miller jawing after the shootout. The Devils will look for revenge at the Prudential Center on Thursday night, but more importantly, will be looking to end their recent 6-game skid (0-5-1) and avoid their first 7-game losing streak since 1986.
Three Stars of the Game:
3rd Star: Tyler Ennis (1 SO Goal)
2nd Star: Ryan Miller (3 GA, 28 Saves)
1st Star: Jason Pominville (2 goals)
The Devils (10-6-5) were once again left with a familiar feeling after falling to the Buffalo Sabres (9-12-1) in the shootout Saturday evening. Devils fans were glad to see the Carter-Gionta-Bernier line reunited, after Carter was activated from IR. Both teams’ power plays were held scoreless, the Devils going 0-5 and the Sabres going 0-6. Each team also gave up a short-handed goal. The Devils have now dropped 7 out of their last 9 games.
Game Time: 3:00 PM EST
Radio: WFAN 660 AM, 101.9 FM
This Saturday, your New Jersey Devils (10-6-4) will look to snap a 3-game losing streak against the Buffalo Sabres (8-12-1) as they travel to upstate New York. This will be the first of three meetings between the two teams this season, and one of two played at the First Niagara Center. This will also be the second game of a three-game road trip for the Devils, and the last home game for the Sabres until March 12. Last season the Devils went 3-0-1 against the Sabres, winning both match-ups in Buffalo by the scores 5-3 and 4-1.
(headline by @Dan_PF)
Over the course of the season, you guys have been tweeting and talking about how the Devils needed to play a solid, 60-minute effort. I think it’s safe to say they played a solid game for most of the night tonight. They still had occasional breakdowns, but they also have a goaltender named Martin Brodeur, who’s pretty good, and he cleaned up when the Devils needed him. They also have a guy named Ilya Kovalchuk. Tonight, he earned his 12th career hat trick, but first with the New Jersey Devils. He was simply dominant tonight, and he continues to carry the Devils up the Eastern Conference standings. The Devils have played eight games since the All-Star break and Kovy now has four 3-point games during that stretch.
The first period started out slowly. The Devils were a bit sloppy early on, but neither team really threatened in the opening minutes. Buffalo eventually generated a few chances, including a pair by Brad Boyes, but Brodeur stood tall. Marty made 8 saves in the first period. The Devils also had 8 shots in the first period, Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller didn’t stop all of them. Thomas Vanek went off for tripping late in the period, and the Devils cashed in on the power play. Ilya Kovalchuk and Patrik Elias spent most of the power play playing catch and throwing the puck across the ice. It didn’t work on the first chance, but once they entered the zone a second time, they worked a pretty tic-tac-toe play and Kovy buried it into a mostly open net. It was Kovalchuk’s 23rd of the season.
The Devils played a strong second period. Their puck movement was spectacular at times. Parise-Henrique-Kovalchuk looked fantastic all night. The third line of Ponikarovsky-Zubrus-Bernier was also very strong. The Devils played well defensively for a majority of the period, but a tough break resulted in Buffalo’s only goal of the night. Jason Pominville banked the puck to the front of the net from below the goal line to the right of Brodeur, and it appeared to go off of Vanek and in, but it actually deflected off Dainius Zubrus, who attempted to clear the puck. The goal tied the game, but Buffalo’s lack of discipline gave the Devils another chance to re-take the lead. Buffalo took four minor penalties in the second period alone, and seven on the night. After late penalties by two Sabres defensemen, Christian Ehrhoff and Mike Weber, the Devils took a 47-second 5-on-3 power play into the third period.
Buffalo didn’t give the Devils much in the first minute of the third period. The Devils were forced to dump the puck in with the two-man advantage, and couldn’t create anything with the 5-on-3, but they were able to strike 5-on-4. Kovalchuk fed Petr Sykora, who sent it to Adam Henrique, who returned it to Sykora. Sykora then wristed one far-side and it tucked right under the far corner to give the Devils a 2-1 lead. The significance of Henrique recording an assist on that goal is that he took sole possession of first place in the rookie scoring race. Henrique picked up another point as he came down the right wing, and fed Kovalchuk, who was crashing the net, and Kovalchuk deflected the puck past Miller to double the Devils’ lead. The rest was up to Martin Brodeur, who finished with 29 saves on 30 shots. Kovalchuk completed his first Devils hat trick when Zach Parise unselfishly sent Kovy the puck with the empty net. After his first empty net shot was blocked by a Sabres defenseman, Kovy found an opening between two Buffalo defensemen and iced the game. The Devils won it, 4-1.
Game notes: Brodeur continues his strong play. He’s 7-3-1 with a goals against average around 1.80 and save percentage over .920 in his last 11 games, including a shutout. Kovalchuk now has 16 points (6 goals, 10 assists) in 8 games since the All-Star break. He has cracked the top-10 in scoring league-wide and had 10:24 of ice-time on the power play alone tonight. Parise’s assist on Kovalchuk’s third goal gives him points in seven of eight games since the break. Patrik Elias also has points in seven of eight games since the break and 8 of his last 9 games overall. Adam Henrique also recorded his first multi-point game since January 10th in Calgary. Henrique scored his first point, via goal, against the Blues last Thursday. Parise and Kovalchuk each had 7 shots on goal tonight. David Clarkson has 5 shots on goal and Alexei Ponikarovsky had 3 shots. Clarkson recorded an assist on Kovy’s first goal tonight, giving Clarkson points in six of the eight games since the All-Star break. The Devils are 6-1-1 since the break.
New Jersey Devils (31-20-4, 66 points) vs Buffalo Sabres (24-25-6, 54 points)
7:00 PM EST
Radio: WFAN 660 AM
Tonight is the fourth and final meeting between the Sabres and Devils. The Devils have won 2 of the 3 previous match-ups, but suffered a 2-1 shootout loss in their last meeting, back on January 24th at Prudential Center. However, since that loss the Devils are 5-1-2.
Devils Looking To Get Back on Winning Streak:
With games coming up this week against teams outside of the playoff picture, this is a good chance for the Devils to get back to their winning ways.
The trade deadline is looming and with New Jersey right in the middle of the pack at 6th in the Eastern Conference, they really need a big push this month.
The team has called up Nick Palmieri and Stephane Veilleux for tonight’s game, but it looks like Palmieri will be a healthy scratch. Veilleux, however, will make his team debut tonight, playing in an NHL game for the first time since 2009-2010 when he played for the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Over their last 12 road games, the Devils are 9-2-1 and are currently riding a four game road winning streak.
Projected Devils Lineup:
Parise (C) – Henrique – Kovalchuk (A)
Sykora – Elias (A) – Clarkson
Ponikarovsky – Zubrus – Bernier
Veilleux – Josefson – Janssen
Taormina – Foster
The Latest on the Buffalo Sabres:
The Buffalo Sabres are 8 points out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the East Conference, currently held by the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Sabres are 5-1-1 in their last seven games and are looking to continue earning points to climb their back in the playoff picture.
Coach Lindy Ruff will make his return behind the bench after being out for three games, recovering from broken ribs
Projected Sabres Lineup:
Vanek (A) – Roy – Pominville (C)
Gerbe – Ennis – Stafford
Leino – Gaustad (A) – Kaleta
Boyes – Ellis – Kassian
Ehrhoff – Myers
Regehr – Leopold
Sekera – Weber
(headline submitted by @radametz)
When Devils coach Peter DeBoer called the Devils an “elite” team over the weekend, he probably didn’t envision losing to the Buffalo Sabres as a reality. After back-to-back losses to a pair of Eastern Conference teams that are generally viewed as “elite” teams (Boston and Philadelphia), the Devils turned in a very sloppy performance tonight, and now head into the All-Star break on a three-game winless streak (0-2-1). They’ve dropped all three games at home and fall to 1-2-1 on the season-high six-game homestand. They also drop to eighth in the conference, which means they’re just barely holding on to a playoff spot at the break as well. So what went wrong tonight?
Let’s be honest: the Buffalo Sabres are a very weak hockey team this season. Aside from Jason Pominville, Tomas Vanek and a few other signs of strong play, the team has fallen dramatically short of expectations this season. Coming into tonight, they had lost five straight games, allowing four goals or more in each of the games. They had dropped to a tie for last in the Eastern Conference with the Carolina Hurricanes entering the night as well. Despite this, however, the Devils got off to a dreadful start in the first period. They were incredibly sloppy with the puck and left the Sabres to attack seemingly at will. Still, Buffalo managed just six shots in the first period, as did the Devils. A pinching Jordan Leopold was able to beat Martin Brodeur on a rebound to give Buffalo a lead after one period.
The Devils slowly warmed to the task in the second period, thanks to a pair of minor penalties by Buffalo forward Derek Roy. The Devils failed on their first power play, but just past the midway point of regulation and the second period, the Devils finally beat Ryan Miller. Kurtis Foster’s one-timer from the point rebounded right to Zach Parise in the slot, who fed Patrik Elias at the right circle, and Elias blasted the puck by Miller. For Elias, it was his 18th goal of the season, pulling him one behind Kovalchuk for the team lead in goals. For Parise, it was his first point since a first period assist on January 17th against Winnipeg. The Devils pretty much took over the game at that point, despite being sloppy at times, including some bad giveaways by seemingly every skater at some point. Still, Miller looked nothing like a struggling goaltender tonight. He stopped 17 of 18 shots after two periods, while Brodeur had stopped 8 of 9 Sabres shots after two periods.
The third period featured more of the same for the Devils. They dominated puck possession, scoring chances and outshot Buffalo, 6-4 in the final period, but occasional sloppy play, granted it was by both teams, prevented the Devils from generating consistent offense. For the third straight game, they couldn’t manage a second goal in regulation after a 5-goal outburst during the first game of the homestand. Regardless of how they played, they picked up a point and headed to overtime. The Devils continued to outplay Buffalo in the overtime. Ilya Kovalchuk and Adam Henrique both had tremendous chances to bury Buffalo, but they couldn’t finish their chances and beat Miller.
After overtime, the Devils had outshot Buffalo, 28-15, nearly a 2-to-1 advantage, but headed to a shootout. The shootout has been a specialty of the Devils this season. They entered the night having won 8 of 9 shootouts this season, with the only loss coming to San Jose early in the season. Kovalchuk and Parise have also been among the league’s most productive shootout skaters this seaosn. Kovalchuk, true to form, put the Devils up early. After Brodeur made a sprawling save to rob Tomas Vanek of a tying goal, Zach Parise shot on Miller, but Miller gloved his backhand attempt. Buffalo’s Brad Boyes missed his next chance. With a chance to clinch the game, Patrik Elias took his turn, but was denied by Miller. Jason Pominville then tied the game. Miller stopped Adam Henrique in the fourth round, and Nathan Gerbe beat Brodeur to give Buffalo the win.
There’s no doubt that this is a very difficult loss for the Devils. Martin Brodeur believes that DeBoer’s assessment of the Devils of being “elite” is false, at least for right now. The Devils, considered by most people to be a playoff team this season, need to win games like this one. Buffalo was free-falling and the Devils couldn’t bury them at home. They’ve already lost three games on this six-game homestand. After the All-Star break, they’ll host the conference-leading New York Rangers and then face Montreal. If they’re unable to put these losses behind them, they could find themselves on the outside of a playoff spot and looking up. Until then, though, Adam Larsson and Henrique will head to Ottawa for All-Star festivities, while the rest of the team takes a breather.
What did you think about tonight’s game? How do you feel about the state of the Devils right now heading into the break? Do you think a trade is necessary or can the Devils win with their current roster? Leave us a comment below and express your opinion!