By Daren Smith
PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer
NEWARK, New Jersey (Ticker) — Playing on back-to-back nights
finally paid off for the Buffalo Sabres.
Derek Roy snapped a tie midway through the third period and
Thomas Vanek raised his league-leading goals total to 24 with a
pair as the Sabres topped the New Jersey Devils, 4-2, for their
third straight road win.
Vanek opened the scoring 70 seconds into the game with the
10,000th goal in franchise history and capped the offense with
seven minutes remaining in the third period for his seventh
two-goal effort of the season and second in three contests.
Drew Stafford also tallied, Roy added an assist and Patrick
Lalime made 20 saves to halt a personal five-game losing streak
for the Sabres, who have won four of five overall.
“We’re gaining traction,” Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff said. “I
don’t think we’ve been outworked in our last five. … We’re
getting support from different lines. I thought the work ethic
and what we did with the puck tonight was real good.”
Patrik Elias extended his goal-scoring streak to three games and
Bobby Holik also scored for New Jersey, which had won five
straight at home and nine of 10 overall.
Buffalo had been 0-4-1 in the second game when playing on
consecutive nights and was coming off a disappointing 2-1 home
loss to Toronto on Friday.
“Really, the only negative we had last night was our power play.
And I thought our power play bounced back, won us the game
tonight,” Ruff said. “We got two quick opportunities, and we
put those away.”
The Sabres erased a second-period deficit on Stafford’s
man-advantage goal and grabbed a 3-2 lead 8:43 into the third on
Roy’s ninth of the season and third in five games.
Just 12 seconds after Elias took a tripping penalty, defenseman
Jaroslav Spacek sent a slap pass from the top of the slot to
Roy, who flicked the puck past out-of-position backup goaltender
“It was a great play by Spacek,” Roy said. “He faked the shot
and slid it over to me, and I just put it in the empty net. It
was a pretty easy one.”
Vanek sealed the win just over four minutes later. Roy came off
the right wing boards and pushed the puck into the slot to the
former first-round pick, who snapped a shot into the top right
corner of the net.
“I saw Derek come out of the corner and two guys attacked him,
so it kind of opened up,” Vanek said. “I figured he would get
it to me, and that’s what happened. I figured I’d need to get
it up quick since the goalie was going to move laterally.”
With 24 goals in 30 games, Vanek is two ahead of the pace of
Alexander Mogilny, who set a team record with 76 goals in
“He’s always open,” Roy said of his Austrian teammate. “He’s
always in the right spot, and that’s what makes him a good
The Sabres which went 2-for-2 on the power play against a Devils
team that successfully killed all nine penalties in Friday’s 8-5
victory over the rival New York Rangers.
“On the PK for us, it’s hard sometimes,” said Weekes, who
stopped 30 shots in his first start since November 21. “Those
guys have so much skill and skilled players who are able to make
plays 5-on-5, let alone with the man advantage.”
After totaling seven shots in a lackluster first period, New
Jersey came to life early in the second. Elias used his right
skate to control a pass from Brian Gionta, then snapped a shot
from the left faceoff dot over Lalime’s left shoulder just 58
seconds into the session.
It was his 13th goal of the season and fifth in as many games.
Holik put the Devils in front a little over four minutes later
with his first of the season.
David Clarkson carried into the offensive zone and deked around
Spacek before he was hit by Paul Gaustad. Holik grabbed the
loose puck in the slot and whipped a shot past Lalime’s stick
side for a 2-1 edge.
But that was all the offense New Jersey managed against Lalime,
who had not won since his Sabres’ debut on October 13.
“It was just fun to get the monkey off the back,” he said. “The
guys made my job so much easier, taking away rebounds, making
them shoot from the outside for the most part.”