The New Jersey Devils lost their fourth straight contest on Saturday afternoon at the hands of the Buffalo Sabres. Jersey's Team fell by a score of 4-3 in a shootout; the Devils missed out on a point in a game in which they dominated the opposition. Johan Hedberg stopped 20 of 23 shots but could not get the job done for the third consecutive game.
David Clarkson and Steve Ott got things started with a brief scrap just 27 seconds in. Clarkson took Ott down and provided an early energy boost for the Devils. New Jersey and Buffalo played a chippy opening period; both Hedberg and Sabres' goalie Ryan Miller were strong throughout. The teams headed into the locker room at the end of the first locked in a scoreless tie. The Devils out-shot the Sabres 13-6 in the opening period and seemed destined to score first.
The Devils picked up where they left off in the middle period. Kevin Porter was called for boarding just 1:53 into the second period and sent the Devils to the power play. Jersey was unable to capitalize on the opportunity.
At 7:02 of the second period, Tyler Myers was called for cross checking. Again, the Devils had a chance to put a goal on the board; however, it was Buffalo who cashed in. Jason Pominville netted his eighth of the season 15 seconds into the New Jersey power play and put the Sabres up 1-0. Bobby Butler got caught gazing at the puck and left the Buffalo captain wide open out in front. The one time shot got by Hedberg in a flash.
Steve Bernier responded quickly for the Devils to tie the game at one. His sixth of the season came 9:24 into the middle period. The Devils out-shot Buffalo 13-8 in the second, but headed into the locker room tied at one.
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Adam Henrique put New Jersey out in front 1:21 into the third while shorthanded. The Devils had energy early on in the third and were in a great position to win.
Enter Jason Pominville. Again.
Pominville scored his second goal of the game 3:10 into the third to knot things up. Jochen Hecht scored his first goal of the year six minutes later to send the Sabres out in front.
Andrei Loktionov tied things up for the Devils with less than 10 minutes to play. Loktionov's third goal of the year extended his point streak to five games (3 G, 2 A).
Both teams played fire-wagon style in the overtime period; Buffalo was gifted a power play just 37 seconds in on a phantom roughing call on Marek Zidlicky. Unable to cash-in, both teams headed to a shootout.
Jason Pominville and Tyler Ennis netted the first two chances for the Sabres in the shootout. Ilya Kovalchuk hit the cross bar on New Jersey's first attempt; Adam Henrique was stopped by Miller to win the game.
- There's not much to be said for a team that was in first place in the east just a week ago that is now in seventh.
- The Devils have to play more physical. Anything to get the energy level back up.
- KOVY: WHERE ARE YOU? I need to see more offensive production out of Kovalchuk in order to convince me that the Devils are serious Cup contenders again this season. Kovy's numbers just are not there (yet) this season.
- The Devils and Sabres square off again on Thursday evening at the Rock. This will be an interesting game. Ryan Miller and Adam Henrique were involved in some smack-talking at the end of the shootout; not to mention, the Sabres got away with some of the most blatant interference/cross-checking/roughing penalties I have ever seen. The Devils were definitely not happy after this one and will look to turn the tables on Thursday night.
The Devils are back in action on Monday night, March 4, against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Puck drop is set for 7:00 PM. The Devils will get out of this slump. It is only a matter of time. Just a side note, Martin Brodeur is eligible to play on Monday night. We will see who gets the call for the Devils between the goal pipes.