The Buffalo Sabres and New Jersey Devils matched up this afternoon at the First Niagara Center, both teams desperately in need of a win.
When the game began, both the Sabres and Devils tried to push a physical presence onto each other.
That would become evident, as 27 seconds into the game, Steve Ott and David Clarkson would have a very eventless fight in front of the Devils bench.
Throughout the first period, the Devils were able to control a lot of the play and that allowed them to slow the game down drastically.
One first period positive from the Sabres side is Pat Kaleta, and his penalty drawing ability
Kaleta was able to get Devils foward Ilya Kovalchuk into two situations in which penalties ended up being called.
Following twenty minutes, the game was scoreless.
When the second period began, the Devils continued to build on their first period success of slowing down game play.
New Jersey applied great offensive pressure, which led to the Sabres being outshot for the second straight period.
Controlling the offensive zone was working great for the Devils , until Tyler Myers took a cross checking penalty, and New Jersey headed to the power play.
On the penalty kill, the Sabres would clear the puck down the ice. Cody Hodgson began his way down the ice, trying to kill more time off of the Devils power play.
Hodgson would steal the puck away, and center it to Jason Pominville.
Pominville would go on to score shorthanded, his 8th goal of the season at 7:17 in the second. The Sabres were finally able to get on the board.
Following the game, Pominville said, “It’s always nice to score and fun to get rewarded for hard work.”
Less than two minutes later, the Devils would get the equalizer.
A Ryan Carter shot on net would knuckle up in the air, allowing Steve Bernier the opportunity to whack the puck in the net. It would be Bernier’s 6th goal of the season, at 9:24 in the second.
Throughout the final ten minutes of the second, the Devils would put a stranglehold on the Sabres offense.
The Sabres would begin the third period with a power play, but it would not end up working to their advantage.
With 39 seconds left on the man advantage, a Steve Ott giveaway would lead to an Adam Henrique shorthanded goal.
Henrique’s goal, his 5th of the season, would put New Jersey up 2-1.
Although they were on their heels, Buffalo would not wait long to strike back.
At 3:10, Jason Pominville would put home his second goal of the game, 9th of the season, after receiving a beautiful feed from Cody Hodgson.
“It was a great pass from Cody,” said Pominville. “He put the pass right in the sweet spot.”
The game would not stay tied for too long though, as six minutes later, Jochen Hecht would turn a great Mikhail Grigorenko pass into his first goal of the season.
The Sabres new found lead would be short lived.
As the Devils turned up their offensive zone heat, the Sabres defensive play began to become poor again. This would end up leading to a third Devils goal, at 11:22, from Andrei Loktionov. It would be his 3rd goal of the season.
From that point forward, New Jersey and Buffalo ramped up their defensive efforts.
Neither team would score in the final eight minutes, sending this one to overtime.
When overtime approached, hard work would lead to two seperate power play opportunities for Buffalo. Although the Sabres were unable to capitalize on anything in overtime, it was evident that the will to get the extra point was there.
In the shootout, Jason Pominville and Tyler Ennis would score for Buffalo, while Ryan Miller was flawless in stopping Ilya Kovalchuk and Adam Henrique.
With this victory, the Sabres winning streak grows to three games. The team currently stands at a record of 9-12-1, with 19 points.
Following the game, Ryan Miller was very happy with the team’s effort. “It was a good, hard effort tonight,” said Miller. “We showed we can go the other way out there.”
Head coach Ron Rolston was also very pleased with his team’s effort this afternoon. “We finally started finding ways to win games,” Rolston said. ” We’ve also finally started becoming more resilient as a team.”
The Sabres take the ice again tomorrow night against the New York Rangers. That game will be at Madison Square Garden, with puck drop shortly after 7:30 PM on MSG.
Notes: - Pominville’s shorthanded goal was the 10th of his career, giving him sole possesion of 6th all-time in Sabres franchise history.
– Hecht’s goal was his first since December 30, 2011. It also tied him for 18th-most in franchise history (134).
– The Sabres are now 46-38 (3-0 this season) in shootouts.
– Hodgson has 16 points (5 goals, 11 assists) in his last 16 games.