Game 36: Bedeviled

The Sabres found themselves behind the 8-ball after a slow start and couldn’t muster up much on offense, falling to the New Jersey Devils, 3-1. Buffalo blew a golden opportunity to get back into the playoffs tonight. To add injury to insult, they lost Andrej Sekera during this game as well.

1st Period: After a about three minutes of boring play from both teams, Zack Kassian took a holding penalty to give the Devils a chance on the power play. Fortunately for the Sabres, New Jersey’s power play is godawful. They had a solid last 40 seconds, but for the most part, they were ineffective at generating much of anything. Stafford-Roy-Boyes followed that up with a good shift in the Devils’ zone. A couple minutes after that, the 4th line of Ellis-McCormick-Kaleta had some decent puck possession down-low to generate a scoring chance. Shortly after that,  Brodeur helped spring a break for Elias and Sykora against Regehr and Sekera. Both Sabres defenseman played their parts perfectly, but Miller somehow let a weak-shot  by Sykora get by him to give New Jersey a 1-0 lead. Pominville would have a great scoring chance later on, but Brodeur robbed him blind. With about four minutes left, Parise cross-checked Regehr to give Buffalo their first power play chance. They were no match for the Devils’ superb penalty kill during that sequence though and that pretty much wrapped up the opening period. Both teams were evenly-matched, but the Devils found themselves ahead 1-0, thanks to Miller’s softy.

2nd Period: The Devils wasted now time getting another goal. Sekera and Regehr both appeared to be confused on the play and the puck got turned over behind the net to Elias who dished it out front to Sykora for his 2nd goal of the game. Ehrhoff compounded the Sabres’ problems by taking a tripping penalty just under a minute after New Jersey scored. They looked much more dangerous this time around, moving the puck around with ease and generating scoring chance. The best chance came when Kovalchuk hit the post, but fortunately, they wouldn’t score. Around the 15-minute mark, Luke Adam would redirect a shot from the point past Brodeur, but it didn’t count because Adam’s stick was too high off the ice. A couple minutes later, Parise tipped a low point-shot up past Ryan Miller who had already committed himself to the original shot. Almost immediately after that, Sekera got elbowed which caused McCormick and the rest of the Sabres players on the ice to go after the players on the ice for the Devils. Buffalo would still get a power play out of it and in impressive, quick fashion, they scored. Leopold got a nice, low point-shot through to the net and Vanek did his thing in front of the net and stuffed it home. You could sense the momentum start to shift after that goal, which was most welcome. As Buffalo continued to take over the game, Sykora high-sticked Ehrhoff to give the Sabres another opportunity on the power play. They had another good sequence on the power play, but failed to score.

As the penalty expired, the Devils broke out of their zone and Sykora almost had a hat-trick on a backdoor feed that was available to him due to Ehrhoff being asleep at the wheel. Luckily, Miller made a great save and the Devils would get a bench minor for too-many men. Pominville cranked one of the post early on, but other than that, there wasn’t much to write home about during that power play. The score would remain at 3-1 in favor of New Jersey at the end of the 2nd. The good news is that Buffalo did take over the game after the scrum, so they at least showed some solid signs of getting back into this game.

3rd Period: Before the period started, we found out that Sekera wouldn’t return because of an “upper-body injury.”…huge loss for the Sabres to say the least. The opening half of the period was very much lacking in offense and shots on goal. Each team only had two shots through 10-minutes. The highlight of that portion of the period was McNabb and Miller combining to stop Adam Henrique on a partial breakaway. Literally nothing happened until the two-minute mark when the Sabres pulled Miller in a desperate attempt to generate some offense and tie the game.  New Jersey was still as stifling as ever on defense though and made sure Buffalo didn’t generate any scoring opportunities and Buffalo failed to win back-to-back games yet again.

Quick-hits:

-Sekera’s out for awhile. That really hurts. Hello Marc-Andre Gragnani!

-Vanek’s a tank. One of the few players I didn’t hate tonight.

-As far as I’m concerned, the Pat Kaleta honeymoon is over. They’ve got other guys who can PK on this team and he’s just hasn’t been that good for about a season and a half now. Give me someone like Tropp who can play with that edge and contribute at even-strength.

-Too much “One and done” chances. Brodeur is no spring-chicken. Get him moving around. Any NHL goalie is going to have pretty easy nights if they only have to stop a single shot during every offensive sequence.

-I like that Adam Henrique guy a lot for the Devils. He’s going to be a good one.

-I will give big props to the Sabres for actually scoring on New Jersey’s penalty kill. That’s no small feat.

-Outside of the first goal, Miller was ok. There’s still plenty of room for improvement though.

-Ehrhoff seems to have a hard time holding the blueline.

-I saw that Drew Stafford got a point….found that hard to believe. I didn’t notice him or his linemates, Roy and Boyes at all. I’ve got a new nickname for that line: “Trade Bait.”

Time

1sr Period Scoring

BUF

NJ

9:52

P.Sykora (9)
Assists: P.Elias, M.Brodeur

0

1

Time

Penalties

2:44

Z.Kassian: 2 Minutes for Holding the Stick of Tim Sestito

14:20

Z.Parise: 2 Minutes for Cross checking Andrej Sekera

Time

2nd Period Scoring

BUF

NJ

1:26

P.Sykora (10) 
Assists: P.Elias, A.Volchenkov

0

2

6:55

Z.Parise (12) 
Assists: M.Fayne, A.Henrique

0

3

7:41

T.Vanek (18) (PP) 
Assists: J.Leopold, D.Stafford

1

3

Time

Penalties

2:27

C.Ehrhoff: 2:00 for Tripping E.Boulton

7:12

E.Boulton: 2:00 for Boarding A.Sekera (Served by Tim Sestito)

7:12

E.Boulton: 2 Minutes for Roughing C.McCormick

7:12

C.McCormick: 2 Minutes for Roughing E.Boulton

7:12

P.Gaustad: 10:00 Misconduct

7:12

P.Kaleta: 10:00 Misconduct

7:12

C.Janssen: 10:00 Misconduct

7:12

B.Salvador: 10:00 Misconduct

11:42

P.Sykora: 2:00 for High-sticking C.Ehrhoff

13:51

2:00 Bench Minor for Too Many Men on the Ice (Served by Petr Sykora)

Time

3rd Period Scoring

BUF

NJ

1

3

Time

Penalties

Shots On Goal

1

2

3

Total

Buffalo

7

10

6

23

New Jersey

8

9

6

23

Team Stats

Hits

Giveaways

Takeaways

Faceoffs Won

PIM

Buffalo

11

4

5

23

26

New Jersey

13

10

7

21

30

Game Scoresheet

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