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Devils head into Buffalo looking to build momentum

By Matt Beardmore

Stats Writer

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,

1985-Jan.6, 1986.

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.


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