Sabres 4, Devils 2 (F)
Elias continued his hot play Saturday with his 13th goal.
Following an emotional victory over their Hudson River rivals Friday, the Devils came up short Saturday against the Buffalo Sabres.
Derek Roy's goal on a 4-on-3 power play broke a 2-2 tie at 8:43 of the third period, and the Sabres went on to top the Devils, 4-2, at Prudential Center.
Thomas Vanek chipped in with his league-leading 23rd and 24th goals of the season.
After thrashing the New York Rangers in Friday's roller-coaster 8-5 triumph, New Jersey took a 2-1 second-period lead over Buffalo Saturday before giving up three unanswered goals.
Minor penalties to Bobby Holik and Adam Mair set up a 4-on-4 at 8:04 of the third. Twenty-seven seconds later, Patrik Elias
was called for a trip on Drew Stafford, leaving Devils penalty killers to fend off 1:33 of a 4-on-3.
On the man advantage, Jaroslav Spacek faked a shot from the point and passed to the bottom of the right circle, where Roy one-timed the go-ahead goal through Kevin Weekes.
Head coach Brent Sutter felt the call on Elias could have gone either way.
"There was nothing else called all night. Whether it's questionable or not, I don't know," Sutter said. "There were other things that weren't called all night. I'm not saying it wasn't a penalty, I'm not saying it was. I'm just saying under the circumstances, I guess it probably was."
Elias scored his 13th of the season to extend his goal streak to three games and now has points in six straight games (5g-4a). Holik notched his first of the year, and first as a Devil in almost seven years.
Weekes made his first appearance since Nov. 21 with his first start in eight games. He registered 30 saves, including 17 stops in the second period, when the Devils were outshot 18-9.
"At times we were good," said Sutter. "At times we didn't seem to have a lot of energy tonight. Mentally, we weren't as sharp as we needed to be."
The Devils came one win shy of matching their season-high five-game winning streak, and dropped just their second contest in 11 games since Nov. 14. They won twice on the three-game, four-day homestand and hit the road to face Toronto Tuesday and Buffalo again Wednesday.
The Sabres took the lead in the first period Saturday, and New Jersey responded with two straight goals in the second to make it 2-1. Buffalo would connect on the power play to knot the contest at 2 heading into the third.
Vanek put the Sabres on top 1:10 into the contest, stuffing home his 23rd of the season off a scramble in front of Weekes. Jochen Hecht's backhander from the right circle deflected off traffic, but Hecht followed up his own shot for a centering feed toward Vanek at the goal mouth.
Elias tied the contest 58 seconds into the middle period. On a 2-on-2, he crisscrossed with Gionta inside the Buffalo blueline and snapped a wrister from the left circle that beat Buffalo netminder Patrick Lalime top shelf, over his left shoulder.
Lalime stopped 20 Devils shots for his second win in seven appearances.
Holik gave New Jersey the lead with his first goal as a Devil since April 1, 2002. David Clarkson
made a move on two Buffalo defenders at the right circle and left the puck in the slot for Holik's wrister through Lalime at 5:09 of the second.
Holik, who signed in the offseason for a second stint with the Devils, has a goal and an assist in four games since returning from a broken pinkie.
Johnny Oduya's high-sticking minor gave the Sabres their first power play of the game, and Stafford capitalized. Stafford was stationed at the bottom of the left circle, where he put home a Nathan Gerbe rebound at 11:05 to send the game into the third period tied at 2.
Devils penalty killers had gone three games without allowing a goal, including Friday's perfect 9-for-9 effort against the Rangers.
After Roy had put the Sabres ahead 3-2, he set up Vanek's second of the night. Roy stripped Oduya of the puck in the right corner, and fed Vanek in the slot for a shot over Weekes' catching glove at 12:54.
Gionta's assist extended his points streak to three games (1g-5a)... Colin White
assisted on Elias' goal, and now has 99 career points... The Devils slipped to 3-2-1 in the second half of back-to-backs this season... New Jersey did not have any power play chances Saturday, marking the first time since Nov. 10, 2007 that the club did not have at least one opportunity on the man advantage.
|Three star selections