Sabres 4, Devils 1 FINAL
|Zubrus tips a shot on Buffalo's Ryan Miller.
The Devils got back on their heels early and couldn't recover at the Rock.
Playing at home for the first time in 11 days, Jersey's Team surrendered two goals in the first six minutes of the game and never regained its footing in a 4-1 loss to Buffalo on Wednesday.
Jason Pominville had a goal and an assist, and Ryan Miller made 31 saves to snap the Devils' three-game winning streak and hand them their fourth loss in five home games (1-4-0).
Playing without Paul Martin (forearm) and Jay Pandolfo (shoulder), the Devils' troubles at home continued.
"We faced a team that was ready," said head coach Jacques Lemaire. "You can tell why they're on top and have such a great record. They have four good lines and they all play the same way. They're a puck-control team; they can make great plays; they skate; and they're on the puck. There's no doubt we faced a better team tonight."
scored on the power play for his first goal of the season, but that was all the Devils would get. Buffalo added two more in the third period and Miller took care of the rest. He remained undefeated in regulation (7-0-1) as the Sabres improved to 4-0 on the road.
helped set up Greene's second-period tally, stretching his points streak to five games (1g-5a).
"Better question would be, 'What did go right?' Not much," Langenbrunner said of the Devils' first period. "We sat around watching them play. We were flat and they were jumping."
stopped 23 of 27 Sabres shots.
"I thought we settled down after the first, but regardless of if it's our fault or the way they played, that's definitely something you have to guard against when you're playing a top team," Brodeur said. "You can't just go out there and not fight back and not play the way we know how to play for a period of time in the game. That ultimately cost us the game."
Martin and Pandolfo play vital roles on a Devils squad that has put together a pair of three-game winning streaks and gone unbeaten on the road (5-0). The Devils (6-4-0) have already had to make do without Patrik Elias
, their all-time leading scorer, who has yet to play a game as he rehabs from groin surgery.
Martin quarterbacks the New Jersey power play, while Pandolfo brings a strong defensive presence up front. With both of them on the shelf for the next four to six weeks, Langenbrunner said there's no time for an adjustment period.
"There can't be," he said. "We've got three (games) in four (nights), and if we think we can just adjust our way through it, all of a sudden, you drop three games. You have to be ready to play every night, no matter who's in the lineup and what situation we're in."
New Jersey got four of its five power plays in the third period but failed to convert. Buffalo took two penalties inside the final two minutes of regulation.
Pominville was in the box for goaltender interference when Zach Parise
was high-sticked by Paul Gaustad in the third. Trailing 3-1, the Devils could have given the puck up for what would have been a brief two-man advantage. Instead, Dainius Zubrus
controlled and fired a shot off the left post with 6:58 left in regulation.
"Normally I do, but I had the puck and I was in an area where I thought I could get a good shot off anyway," Zubrus said. "At the same time, I never even looked at the referees to see for sure. Honestly, you have possession of the puck in their end, I don't even know if it needed to be done. Thirty seconds and up, you probably want to do that."
The Devils will have little rest before Thursday's contest in Boston. Zubrus said a team prefers to get back on the ice soon after a tough loss, though.
"I think so," he said. "It's a game that you don't want to keep in your memory bank too long. The fact is, we have a chance to redo it all over tomorrow, but we have to do it well."
The Sabres went ahead, 1-0, on Clarke MacArthur's rebound goal at 1:21 of the first. Tim Kennedy's first NHL goal staked Buffalo to a two-goal lead less than five minutes later. Kennedy carried the puck off the end boards and surprised Brodeur with a spinaround shot from the right circle at 6:00.
"I thought he was passing the puck," Brodeur said. "He came in and it was just a weird wraparound. I don't know if it hit something on the way out, but it was kind of weird and caught me off guard through my legs."
Trailing, 2-0, to start the second, the Devils answered on the power play with Greene's first of the season.
Zubrus worked the puck to Langenbrunner at the goal line, and the captain passed to Parise in the slot. The puck went off the heel of Parise's stick to Greene, who beat Miller from the right dot at 4:17 of the second.
Parise extended his points streak to five games (5g-4a) but said there were things the Devils could have done better.
"I just don't think we were making good plays," he said. "They're aggressive, but with one pass you can beat a couple guys. We got better as the game went on, but we were just turning the puck over a little too much."
Gaustad scored Buffalo's third goal on a pass from Matt Ellis that got through Colin White
in front of the net. Gaustad's shot went off White's stick and into the net at 9:25 of the third.
Pominville's power-play goal made it 4-1 with 2:39 remaining in regulation. He fired a shot through traffic from the top of the right circle.
Lemaire doesn't quite know what to make of his team's home woes.
"I know a lot the games we played here were good teams, but still, I'm looking at the effort overall, which has to be better," Lemaire said. "I've said all along, there's parity in the League and if you're not playing 60 minutes, you're in trouble. You look at Buffalo, they played pretty much 60 minutes. They didn't look as good when we were at our best, but they just kept playing."
• White wore the other "A" with Martin out of the lineup. He said the Devils have to pick up the slack without Martin and Pandolfo.
"We're definitely going to miss those guys," White said. "I don't think we performed as well as we should have. I need to be better than that, and we all need to pick our games up. That's not trying to do too much, that's making the right plays. We'll learn from it and we'll move on. It (stinks) right now, but it's one game and we have to get prepared for tomorrow."
Lemaire didn't believe his team was getting adjusted to playing without Martin.
"I don't think so," he said. "All our defensemen that were the regulars since the start of the season; they've been playing pretty well every game and doing what they have to do. I know we had some tough times in games, different games. But they came back and did well. This is not a reason, tonight, because we lost Martin, that the other guys can't play. There are certain things you have to do with the puck on every team's forecheck and if you don't do it you'll be in trouble."
• Brian Rolston
had six shots on goal in 28 shifts, and earned praise from Lemaire.
"Rolie played his best game tonight," said the coach. "He controlled the puck better, held on to it, made better plays, got scoring chances."
• The Devils were called for too many men with 5:23 to go in regulation. It was the fifth time in 10 games that New Jersey has been caught.
"Travis (Zajac) was on the point, he came to the bench, the defenseman jumped for the point man, and the center jumps for the point man," Lemaire said. "You wind up with too many men on the ice."
• Lemaire tried the ZZ Pops line of Parise-Zajac-Langenbrunner together again.
"We had no offense," Lemaire said. "I felt that if we're not going to have offense, I'm going to put Jamie back."
|Three star selections