Kyle Palmieri had a goal and two assists and Cory Schneider got the win as the Devils defeated the Buffalo Sabres at Prudential Center this evening. For the Devils, it is their first back-to-back set of wins since January 12 and 14, following their come-from-behind victory over the Minnesota Wild on Friday.
The Devils lineup stayed largely the same as the other night with the lone exception of Pavel Zacha taking the night off with an upper body injury. He is said to be day-to-day. Nick Lappin and Steven Santini were the other scratches. The Devils are looking at some reinforcements coming in soon. As per Erika Wachter of MSG Networks, Sami Vatanen (concussion) practiced with the team earlier today and could be returning soon.
Also, a big congratulations to Nico Hischier as his overtime goal in Minny on Friday made him the first player in Devils history to score three OT goals before his 21st birthday. In another milestone, Kenny Agostino was making his home debut as a member of the Devils. He was sure to have a lot of friends and family in attendance at The Rock as the Jersey native was back in New Jersey for the first time as a home team player.
In goal, Cory Schneider got the start for the Devils after his relief win in Minnesota that got him back in the winning column. Schneider stopped 34-of-35 shots for a .971 save percentage on the night. Down the rink was Carter Hutton who has one win since January 8 when the Sabres beat the Devils up in Buffalo. He stopped 20-of-23 for an .870 save percentage.
On special teams, the Devils kept the Sabres 0-for-3 on the power play with three shots. They also had a shorthanded shot which Cory turned aside as well. The Devils were 1-for-2 with four shots. Although the Devils did not register a shorthanded shot, Joey Anderson did score a shorthanded empty net goal. The shot was from too far beyond the blue line to count for a shot, but did count as the Devils’ fourth goal.
The game started off with a bang when Kurtis Gabriel and Zach Bogosian were jawing at each other during warmups. Bogosian took a few swipes at Gabriel with his stick, but nothing came of it during the actual game.
Following a scoreless first period, the Devils got the scoring going in the game 7:25 into the second when Travis Zajac chipped the puck up off the boards to Kyle Palmieri, which caused a Devils 2-on-1 odd man rush with Palmieri and Miles Wood. Palmieri passed to Wood and the puck went in off of Wood’s skate. He then crashed into the net, dislodging it. However, the puck was already across the line and there was no kicking motion so the goal stood. Buffalo coach Phil Housley did not even challenge the goal, allowing the call to stand. It was 1-0 Devils.
The second goal came on the power play for the Devils when the Sabres’ Vladimir Sobotka was off for holding at 13:06. At 13:38, Damon Severson got the puck to Palmieri, who found a passing seam to Jesper Bratt and made a nice pass ot him on the far side. Bratt took a shot that beat Hutton and then went in-and-out of the net. The referee signaled right away that it was a goal and the Devils were up 2-0.
But Buffalo would cut that lead in half with just 56 seconds remaining in the second period when Sam Reinhart was all alone at the bottom of the far faceoff circle. He took a pass from Bogosian and had a wide-open net to shoot at. He did not miss and scored. This was just after Eric Gryba had gotten out of the penalty box for hooking, but it obviously was not a power play goal. Buffalo had scored in the final minute of the second period, which is always something coaches do not like, as it could transfer momentum to the other side.
But the Devils came out ready for the third period. After holding Buffalo back for most of the period, Zajac again used the boards to chip the puck up ahead to Palmieri. Palmieri skated up the right wing with the puck and wristed it through Hutton’s glove hand and the post, just sneaking it in to give the Devils the 3-1 lead. Andy Greene, who earlier in the game took a puck to the face, but did not miss much time, had the secondary assist. Zajac finished the game with two assists.
At 15:40, Severson took a tripping penalty against Jeff Skinner that put the Sabres on the power play at a crucial time. About 1:10 into the power play, Buffalo would pull Hutton for the sixth attacker (a tricky move since the Devils could just shoot openly at the empty net due to no icing). But they had some trouble getting the extra man on and Joey Anderson took advantage by shooting into the empty net and scoring to give us our final of 4-1. Greene had the lone assist on this goal, giving him two assists on the night.
The Devils were out shot once again in this win, 35-24. They also won only 41-percent of the game’s faceoffs and had more giveaways at 13-6. They did out hit Buffalo 27-20 and blocked more shots at 17-10.
Individually, Severson led everyone in ice time with 21:46 (including 1:44 of PP time) and Zajac led the forwards with 20:47 (1:44 on the PP and 3:21 on the PK). Palmieri led in shots and hits with four in each category. Blocks were led by Mirco Mueller with three and takeaways by Agostino, Zajac, Palmieri, Marcus Johansson, Gryba and Will Butcher each with one apiece.
Next up, Tuesday as the Devils go for the season series sweep against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Prudential Center. New Jersey has had the Pens’ number this year and they will try to make it three in a row at 7 PM on Tuesday. We will have a write up here for you then. In the meantime, please feel free to leave a comment below.