Devils Squeeze Out Sabres
Thursday, 03.30.2006 / 12:00 AM / News
March 30, 2006
by Brian Wheeler
Playing the low-risk, no frills style of disciplined hockey that has become synonymous with New Jersey, the Devils stifled Buffalo's offense for three periods of hockey. Despite out shooting their opponent 23-15 through two periods, Buffalo failed to score more than a goal for the first time in four games and fell to New Jersey 3-1 on Thursday night.
"We really came out strong and we made enough plays, but (Martin) Brodeur didn't make any mistakes," said Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff. "I thought (New Jersey) did a really good job in their zone and in getting into shooting lanes. We had some good opportunities to get pucks to the net and they had their sticks and skates there. They really eliminated a few of our better opportunities."
Buffalo wasn't able to get on the scoreboard until five minutes remaining in regulation.
Off a face-off in New Jersey's zone, Tim Connolly fired from the top of the left face-off circle between Brodeur's legs at 14:47. Brodeur, who made 29 saves en route to the victory, never got a good look at Connolly's offering as he was screened by JP Dumont. Ales Kotalik and Dmitri Kalinin recorded the assists.
The goal was Connolly's 12th of the season and third point in two games since returning from a sprained MCL on March 29. The center from Syracuse, New York, who has already set career-highs in points (46), is now just two goals shy of a personal best. Connolly scored 14 goals in 81 games with the New York Islanders during the 1999-00, his rookie campaign.
"Overall (offensively), we saw what we wanted to see and still came out on the short end of the stick," said Ruff. "It was a 1-0 game halfway into the third period that could have gone either way."
Buffalo's offense was lacking one of its biggest weapons for the first time in 17 games. Daniel Briere, who missed 23 games due to injury earlier season, was absent from the lineup after being assessed a two-game suspension for a high-sticking incident involving Boston defenseman Brian Leetch during Buffalo's 4-3 victory over the Bruins on Wednesday night. Briere had recorded 26 points (8+18) in 16 games since returning to the lineup on March 1.
Just 51 seconds into the game, Martin Biron kicked away Paul Martin's shot from the left point with his right pad, but allowed a rebound to John Madden, who one-timed the loose puck into the wide-open net for his 14th of the season and a 1-0 New Jersey lead. Biron would finish his first start in six games with 25 saves.
"In the first period, the first mistake we made ended up in our net," said Ruff. "After that, we pretty well controlled play. We had some good opportunities but we didn't have great ones. We gave them the lead and they played a pretty tough defensive game."
Midway through the third, Zach Parise would expand the Devils lead with a second chance effort. Cutting through the slot, Parise tipped Scott Gomez's pass on net, collected his own rebound and slipped a backhand between Biron's legs at 9:28.
Connolly's slapshot from the left wing brought Buffalo to within a goal at 14:47.
Just over a minute after Buffalo's lone score, Scott Gomez spun away from Connolly along the right boards and found Brian Gionta in the high slot for New Jersey's third goal. Controlling Gomez's pass with his skate, Gionta fired a wristshot from 35-feet out above the glove of Biron for his 41st of the season to clinch the Devils third victory against Buffalo this season.
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0-1 (0:51): Paul Martin's shot from the left point was kicked aside by Martin Biron with his right pad, but the rebound deflected to John Madden, who one-timed the loose puck into the wide-open net for his 14th of the season. Martin and Colin White get the helpers.
0-2 (9:28): Cutting through the slot, Zach Parise tipped Scott Gomez's pass down the center of the ice, collects his own rebound and slipped a backhand between the legs of Martin Biron. The goal is Parise's 11th of the season. Gomez and David Hale record the assists.
1-2 (14:47): Off a face-off in New Jersey's zone, Tim Connolly fired from the top of the left faceoff circle between the legs of Martin Brodeur, who was screened by JP Dumont. The goal is Connolly's 12th of the season. Ales Kotalik and Dmitri Kalinin get the helpers.
1-3 (15:52): Spinning away from Connolly along the boards, Scott Gomez found Brian Gionta in the high slot. Gionta controlled the pass with his skate and fired above the glove of Biron for his 41st of the season just over a minute after Connolly cut the Devils lead to one. Gomez gets the lone assist.
Quotes courtesy of WGR 550-AM, the official radio partner of the Buffalo Sabres.