NEWARK, N.J. – The New Jersey Devils didn’t show up for the first period and that’s all the Buffalo Sabres needed to remain unbeaten on the road.
Clarke MacArthur and rookie Tim Kennedy scored in the opening six minutes and the Sabres completed a sweep of a three-game road trip and won for the fourth time overall away from home, beating the Devils 4-1 on Wednesday night.
“I thought we owned most of the first period and they did a nicer job in the second,” Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. “In the third period, we traded opportunities and we took advantage of the good ones we got.”
Paul Gaustad and Jason Pominville iced the game with goals in the final period and Ryan Miller was outstanding in making 31 saves as Buffalo won for the seventh time (7-1-1) in nine games.
“We’re happy,” Miller said. “I don’t want to give people the impression we are not happy. We’re managing our expectations a little better. We know it’s going to be a steady improvement by every team. With this team, we also have to improve and show we can bring the work ethic every night. The good start shows the guys care and want to play. That will be the key to the season.”
Defenceman Andy Greene scored on a power play for New Jersey, which had a three-game winning streak snapped in losing for the fourth time in five home games.
“Obviously, they came out strong, more prepared, they way we should’ve been,” said Devils defenceman Johnny Oduya, who was on the ice for the Sabres’ first two goals.
New Jersey coach Jacques Lemaire that the staff told the team that the Sabres would come out strong and forecheck. They Devils didn’t handle the puck well in their own end and it cost them.
“In the second period we started to play,” Lemaire said.
MacArthur needed only 81 seconds to give Buffalo the lead, stuffing in the rebound of Craig Rivet’s slap shot for his fifth goal.
“I think we caught them on their heels with a couple of key players out tonight,” Ruff said of Devils’ defenceman Paul Martin and left wing Jay Pandolfo. “We didn’t give them much time to get organized and it seemed they missed Martin on defence.”
Kennedy got his first NHL goal at the six-minute mark. Jochen Hecht got control of a floating puck behind the Devils’ net, nudged it to Kennedy. He skated out from behind the goal to the right circle and then turned and shot, catching Brodeur off guard, with the puck sliding between his wide-open pads.
“He is one of the best, if not the best all time, he is right up there and for me to score on him for my first that’s just really special,” Kennedy said. “He’ll stop me a lot more than I’ll ever score on him, so to get that first one is nice.”
After being outshot 14-7 in the first period, the Devils picked up their game and got on the board with Gaustad off for hooking. Greene beat Miller with a shot from the right circle after a Zach Parise pass failed to connect in front and went right to him for his first goal of the season.
This marked the Devils’ first game without Martin (broken left arm) and Pandolfo (shoulder). Both were hurt Saturday in Pittsburgh and are expected to be sidelined at least four weeks.
Sabres rookie defenceman Tyler Myers played his ninth NHL game on Wednesday. Under NHL rules, the 19-year-old’s three-year rookie contract kicks in if he plays his 10th game, making Myers eligible to test free agency a year earlier than most players in his draft class. The other option would be to send Myers back to junior hockey, but the six-foot-eight first-round pick is playing so well it might be hard for Buffalo to do that.
“We’re going to look at it,” Ruff said. “That’s something we’re going to talk about.
Notes: Devils LW Andrew Peters was scratched and didn’t get a chance to play against his old team. … D Cory Murphy, who was recalled from Lowell after Martin’s injury, was scratched. … Sabres D Toni Lydman did not dress for the second straight game.