Mike Mottau's tying goal slides toward the line in the third period.
newjerseydevils.com (Feb. 6) – What were the chances?
After needing the shootout to decide their previous three meetings this season, the Devils and Sabres got together for a fourth on Wednesday night.
The Devils (30-20-4) had their sights set on sweeping the season series and becoming just the second team to post four shootout wins over one team in a single season.
This time, however, Buffalo got successful attempts from Drew Stafford and Henrik Tallinder to grab a 3-2 shootout victory over New Jersey at HSBC Arena.
Stafford beat Martin Brodeur with a shot to his blocker side, and Tallinder scored after Brodeur missed with a poke check.
Zach Parise and Brian Gionta took New Jersey's shootout attempts, but were stopped by Ryan Miller. Parise's backhand attempt rolled off his stick before he could put a shot on goal, and Gionta tried unsuccessfully to beat the Buffalo netminder to his blocker side.
The Devils missed a chance to post their first season series sweep of the Sabres since 1997-98, but now return home to Prudential Center, where they have won back-to-back contests. They open a four-game homestand on Friday night against Scott Niedermayer and the Anaheim Ducks.
Wednesday's shootout loss shouldn't take too much away from an otherwise solid effort by the Devils to recover from a 2-0 deficit in the second period.
New Jersey trailed 1-0 following an opening frame in which it was outshot 10-4, but regrouped to mount an attack that yielded a 15-5 shots advantage over the final 20 minutes of regulation.
One of those was the tying tally by Mike Mottau, whose last goal 16 games ago also evened the third-period score of a meeting with the Sabres (Dec. 28).
Karel Rachunek accounted for New Jersey's other goal, as the club gained a point to move past Pittsburgh into sole possession of second place in the Atlantic Division. The division's top spot is a point away with Philadelphia's loss to Washington.
Buffalo took a 2-0 lead on goals from Michael Ryan and Jason Pominville before Rachunek answered back with his third of the season.
Ryan put the Sabres up 1-0 at the 2:30 mark of the first period, deflecting a Tallinder point shot for his fourth of the year.
Pominville made it a two-goal edge with his 14th from Daniel Paille and Jochen Hecht at 8:04 of the second. Paille's cross-ice pass from the right boards redirected into the net off of Pominville's left skate, and a video review determined that the puck had not been kicked in.
Rachunek cut the margin in half when he joined a 2-on-2 rush with Gionta and John Madden to score his second goal in three games.
A speeding Gionta carried the puck down the left wing, and found the Devils' defenseman in the slot for wrister that beat Miller over his glove side at 15:25 of the second period.
Madden started the play at the Devils' blue line, and extended his assist streak to three games (4a).
Mottau's third of the season completed New Jersey's comeback. His shot into traffic from the top of the right circle was swept by Dmitri Kalinin off of Miller and into the Buffalo net at 6:16 of the third.
New Jersey dropped its third shootout of the season (4-3), with all three losses coming on the road. The team is 3-0 in shootouts on home ice.
NJD NOTES Since the NHL instituted the shootout in 2005-06 season, there have only been three instances of two teams playing four shootouts against each other in one season. The Islanders were the first team in league history to win four shootouts against one team in a single season (2005-06)... Wednesday's scratches were Arron Asham and Sheldon Brookbank.
1 - 0 BUF
2 - 0 BUF
2 - 1 BUF
2 - 2 Tie