NEWARK, N.J. – Petr Sykora gave the New Jersey Devils a glimpse into the past, back to the days when he was one of the team’s prime scoring threats.
Sykora, in his second stint with the Devils, scored two goals—both set up by Patrik Elias—and Martin Brodeur made 22 saves and assisted on Sykora’s first goal to lead the New Jersey Devils to a 3-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday night.
“He played well,” Brodeur said of Sykora, with whom he won the Stanley Cup in 2000 and 2003. “We brought him in to make a difference offensively. That was what the team was looking for.”
Zach Parise also scored for the Devils, but he could see it was Sykora who had the hot stick.
“He should have had five,” Parise said. “It was one of those nights where the puck was following him all over.”
New Jersey, which built a 3-0 lead in the second period, has won seven of 10.
Thomas Vanek scored for Buffalo, which received 20 saves from Ryan Miller. The Sabres (17-16-3) have dropped seven of 10.
“We definitely have had a frustrating start to the season,” Miller said.
Sykora opened the scoring with his ninth of the season 9:52 in. Brodeur sprung Sykora and Elias with a clearing pass up the middle. The veteran forwards weaved through the neutral zone before Elias dropped a pass between his legs for Sykora, who sent a soft shot that rolled in under Miller’s pads.
“(I) looked for him to shoot through (defenceman) Robyn (Regehr),” Miller said. “He shot around him.”
Sykora snapped a wrist shot over Miller’s glove 1:26 into the second period to double the Devils’ lead. Dainius Zubrus forced a turnover, and Elias set up Sykora for a one-timer with a perfect pass.
New Jersey signed Sykora to a US$650,000, one-year contract after he made the team following a training camp tryout. His 10 goals are tied with linemate Zubrus and rookie Adam Henrique for fourth most on the team.
“I’m getting a chance to play with great players—Patty and Zubie most games. Each guy brings something different,” Sykora said. “Once in a while you’re going to have a game like this.”
Luke Adam appeared to cut the Sabres’ deficit to 2-1 with a deflection at 5:28 of the second but the goal was disallowed after a video review showed that Adam struck the puck while his stick was above the crossbar.
The determining factor is where the puck makes contact with the stick.
“Thought it was good,” Adam said. “Thought it was on its way down. It was a bit of a bad angle.”
Parise made it 3-0 at 6:55 when he tipped in Mark Fayne’s point shot. Vanek scored Buffalo’s lone goal 1:14 later.
The bad blood between the teams grew as the game progressed, and tempers flared during a 5-on-5 fracas midway through the second period.
Buffalo’s Paul Gaustad and Patrick Kaleta, New Jersey’s Cam Janssen and Bryce Salvador were given 10-minute misconducts. Devils forward Eric Boulton received minor penalties for boarding and roughing, and Sabres centre Cody McCormick was given a penalty for roughing.
“(Gaustad and Kaleta) did the right thing,” Miller said. “Not sure it was (a fair) trade-off.”
The Sabres and New Jersey both had 23 shots on goal and neither connected on the power play. The Devils were 0 for 3 with the advantage, and the Sabres went 0 for 2.
“We just didn’t finish,” Vanek said.
NOTES: The Devils are 47-40-16 against the Sabres. New Jersey won the first meeting of the season, 5-3 on Nov. 16. The teams will meet twice more, once in New Jersey and once in Buffalo. … Brodeur improved to 32-16-7 against the Sabres. … Vanek’s goal was his ninth point in six games. He also has six points in his last five games against New Jersey. … Buffalo hadn’t lost in New Jersey since a 2-1 defeat on April 11, 2010.