A 2-0 lead in the latter half of the third period wasn’t enough for the Buffalo Sabres, as the New Jersey Devils battled back to defeat the Sabres 3-2 in a shootout on Thursday, March 7.
The first period went scoreless, as both Jhonas Enroth and Johan Hedberg were solid in net for their respective teams.
The Sabres got the first goal of the game on the power play a little over seven minutes into the second period with Thomas Vanek’s 13th goal of the season. Tyler Ennis fed a pass from the bottom of the right circle to the slot, where Vanek ripped a one-time shot that beat Johan Hedberg to give the Sabres a 1-0 lead.
The rest of the second period went scoreless, but the Sabres went up 2-0 midway through the third period with Brian Flynn’s first career NHL goal. Sabres Defenseman Andrej Sekera took a slap shot from the point that got knocked down in front of the net, and Flynn found it and wristed it by Hedberg with 10:04 remaining in the third period.
The Devils however climbed within one with 6:30 remaining in the third period with a power play goal by Adam Henrique. After taking a pass from Ilya Kovalchuk, Henrique took a shot from the left circle that was blocked. The rebound bounced back to Henrique though, who shot the puck again, this time beating Enroth over his glove hand to cut the score to 2-1.
The Devils weren’t done there, as Patrick Elias tied the game with just over a minute remaining. David Clarkson took the initial shot from the blue line that Enroth stopped, but gave up a big rebound to the right circle that found Elias. Elias then fired it into the open side of the net as Enroth hurt himself while diving across to make the save.
Enroth left the game after the play with 1:06 remaining in regulation, leading to Ryan Miller entering the game in relief.
The game went into overtime, where Jason Pominville narrowly missed giving the Sabres the victory when he rang a shot off the crossbar with 1:08 remaining in the extra frame.
Overtime ended up without a winner, however, and the game went into a shootout.
Both David Clarkson and Patrick Elias beat Ryan Miller in the shootout, and Johan Hedberg stopped all of the Sabres’ shooters and ensured a 3-2 comeback victory for the Devils.
Johan Hedberg made 23 saves for the Devils on 25 shots before stopping two more in the shootout, and Jhonas Enroth stopped 27 of 29 for the Sabres before leaving the game late in the third period, which after the game coach Ron Rolston said was due to cramps.
The injury, albeit minor, prematurely ended a night where Enroth made multiple key saves in his best outing dating back to January of last season.
In relief, Ryan Miller then stopped all four shots he faced through the end of overtime before giving up two goals in the shootout in a losing effort.
With the shootout loss, the Sabres fall to 9-13-3 on the season. With 21 points, the Sabres sit in 14th place in the Eastern Conference standings, five points behind the eighth place New York Rangers.
The Sabres will travel to Philadelphia for their next game, where they face the Flyers on Sunday, March 10.