NJD Preview: Devils vs. Sabres
Saturday, 12.13.2008 / 7:00 PM
Nobody seems able to shut down New Jersey's offense right now, but on Saturday night the Devils will face the last team to do just that.
One night after their best offensive performance in more than three years, the Devils will try to match their longest winning streak of the season when they host the Buffalo Sabres.
When Martin Brodeur went down at the start of November with a left elbow injury that required surgery, it appeared New Jersey's season might go down with him. In their first game without Brodeur on Nov. 2, the Devils lost 2-0 at home to the Sabres. New Jersey lost five of its first six after Brodeur's injury, scoring a total of five goals in those defeats.
They've been almost unstoppable since, thanks in large part to a surging offense. New Jersey (16-8-2) has won four straight and nine of 10, averaging 4.1 goals per game during that span.
On Friday, the offense was strong enough even to overcome a blown four-goal lead. After letting a 5-1 advantage over the New York Rangers slip away, the Devils scored three unanswered goals in a 3:38 span of the third period to claim an 8-5 victory.
"If I wasn't bald before, I'm really bald now," Devils coach Brent Sutter said after the wild game, which also featured four fights.
Patrik Elias scored the go-ahead goal in the third period, 11 seconds after the Rangers tied the game at 5. Travis Zajac scored twice, Brian Gionta had a goal and three assists, and Zach Parise notched a career-high four assists as New Jersey scored its most goals since an 8-2 win at Tampa Bay on Nov. 25, 2005.
"We got the momentum on our side," said Elias, who also had two assists. "Every line right after the goal kept going. And we got another one and another one. It was a very awkward game. We don't want that to happen very often."
With a victory on Saturday, the Devils will have their second five-game winning streak in less than a month. They opened their current hot streak with five straight wins Nov. 15-26.
Buffalo (14-12-3) also had a chance to win its fourth straight on Friday, but fell 2-1 at home to Toronto after Ian White's wrist shot bounced past goalie Ryan Miller with 7:56 remaining.
Miller made 31 saves, but the Sabres' failure to score on five power plays - including a stretch of 5:44 with the man advantage spanning the second and third periods - came back to haunt them.
Defenseman Toni Lydman scored for the Sabres. Derek Roy assisted, extending his point streak to five games. He has two goals and four assists during the run and has tallied at least one point in 18 of 29 games this season, but did not get on the scoresheet in the win over the Devils last month.
Miller made 24 saves in that contest, which was his second straight shutout. He has not recorded one since.