By Matt Beardmore
New Jersey (48-26-4) at Buffalo (38-30-9), 7:00 p.m. EDT
BUFFALO, New York (AP) — After losing six straight games, New
Jersey was victorious Friday in a near must-win situation.
Now the Devils will try to build some momentum heading into the
final week of the regular season as they travel to Buffalo on
Saturday night to face a Sabres club fighting for the Eastern
Conference’s final playoff spot.
New Jersey (48-26-4), which leads Philadelphia by six points for
the Atlantic Division lead, arrives at HSBC Arena after snapping
its longest skid in 23 seasons, defeating Tampa Bay 5-4 in
“Since I’ve been here, it’s one of the toughest times I’ve
seen,” said fourth-year left wing Zach Parise, who snapped a
three-game scoreless streak with a goal and two assists. “This
stuff happens — things don’t go your way.”
In overtime, though, it did as Parise scored the game-winner off
a pass from Travis Zajac and helped the Devils avoid their first
seven-game slide since dropping eight in a row from Dec. 19,
In the teams’ last meeting in Buffalo, Parise scored a goal as
New Jersey snapped a three-game losing streak to the Sabres in a
5-3 victory on Dec. 17.
Jamie Langenbrunner had two assists in that win. The veteran
right wing recorded two goals and an assist versus the Lightning
as the Devils reached the 100-point plateau for the fifth time
in six seasons.
“It’s certainly a step in the right direction,” New Jersey coach
Brent Sutter said. “It hasn’t been a pleasant feeling around
here for a couple of weeks.”
The Devils trail Southeast Division champion Washington by two
points for the second seed after Buffalo (38-30-9) defeated the
Capitals 5-4 in overtime on Friday.
Jason Pominville scored the game-winner for the Sabres, who
trail the New York Rangers by four points for the eighth and
final playoff spot in the East with five games remaining.
“We needed this win,” he said after extending his point streak
to eight games with a goal and an assist. “We found a way.”
Pominville has a goal and two assists as the Sabres have won two
of three against the Devils this season — both victories coming
in New Jersey.
The Sabres still trail Florida by two points for the ninth seed,
but return home where they’ve won five of their last seven.
Buffalo will likely face Martin Brodeur for the first time this
season. The four-time Vezina Trophy winner missed the three
previous matchups due to a torn biceps muscle in his left elbow
that sidelined him for 50 games.
Brodeur was supposed to rest Friday, but entered the game with
19:02 left in the second period as Kevin Weekes injured his left
leg on a save attempt.
“We played good enough,” said Brodeur, who is 0-5-1 with a 3.65
GAA in his last six starts and stopped only seven of 10 shots in
Friday’s win. “We can’t go out and play like that every night
and think we’re going to win a lot of games.”
Brodeur is 12-3-1 with a tie in his last 17 starts versus
Sabres goalie Ryan Miller made 33 saves against the Capitals and
improved to 3-0-1 since returning March 27 from an 13-game
absence with a sprained left ankle.
He is 1-1-0 with a 2.53 GAA against New Jersey this season.
Five of the last six matchups between the teams in Buffalo have
been decided by one goal.