The Buffalo Sabres bucked their losing ways on Saturday afternoon, as the blue and gold survived on the road, 3-2, against a rallying New Jersey Devils team at the Prudential Center in Newark.
It was Buffalo's first win this week; a span of four games following the team's two-week COVID-19 stoppage.
The Sabres grabbed an early 1-0 edge off a point shot from defenseman Colin Miller. It was the team's first goal from someone not named Victor Olofsson since Jan. 31 at home against this same Devils team, their first 5-on-5 goal since that same date, and, most importantly, their first lead in quite some time.
The Buffalo lead grew to 2-0 just over eight minutes into the middle frame when another point shot got by New Jersey goalie Mackenzie Blackwood. Jack Eichel won an offensive zone faceoff clean back to defenseman Brandon Montour, who immediately dished it off to partner Matt Irwin. Irwin then ripped the puck towards the net, where Sam Reinhart got a piece of the puck to extend the advantage.
A Sabres power play goal made the score 3-0 with less than three minutes left in the second period, when Reinhart cashed in, again, for his fifth goal of the season.
The Devils got on the scoreboard just 40 seconds into the third period, as Kyle Palmieri beat Linus Ullmark glove-side to break up the shutout bit for the Sabres netminder. It was Palmieri's third goal of the season.
New Jersey made it a one-goal contest at 3-2 when, on the power play and its net empty, P.K. Subban beat Ullmark with a blast in a 6-on-4 scenario and just 3:16 left to play.
The Devils kept on coming in the waning moments of regulation, but a couple of timely saves and big blocks in the defensive end helped the Sabres hang on for their fifth win of the year. It is also Buffalo's first victory in four games played since returning to play on Monday, Feb. 15.
The win came at a cost, though, as in the third period, the Sabres lost defenseman Jake McCabe to an awkward injury during a battle in the corner. McCabe went down hard on his knee fighting for a puck with Devils captain Nico Hischier and had to be helped off the ice by trainers and teammates, unable to put weight on his injured leg. He did not return to the game.
BUF: 5:26 - Colin Miller (2) (Taylor Hall, Eric Staal)
BUF: 8:07 - Sam Reinhart (4) (Matt Irwin, Brandon Montour); 17:46 - Sam Reinhart (5) PPG (Jack Eichel, Rasmus Dahlin)
NJ: 0:40 - Kyle Palmieri (3) (Jack Hughes, Will Butcher); 16:44 - PK Subban (1) PPG (Pavel Zacha, Jesper Bratt)
BUF: 7:36 - Cody Eakin (Broken stick - 2 min.); 14:28 - Sam Reinhart (Slashing - 2 min.)
NJ: 17:16 - Dmitry Kulikov (Holding - 2 min.)
BUF: 15:16 - Jack Eichel (Tripping - 2 min.)
Losi and Gangi Three Stars of the Game:
1.) Sam Reinhart - BUF
2.) Colin Miller - BUF
3.) Mackenzie Blackwood - NJ
The Sabres continue their road trip with a trip to Long Island to face the New York Islanders on Monday night. The Sabres lost both meetings last week against the Islanders, scoring just a single goal in the process. Puck drop is set for 7 p.m. EST with the Paul William Beltz Pregame Show starting at 6 p.m. EST with Mike Schopp and the Bulldog on the radio home of the Sabres - WGR Sports Radio 550.