Buffalo 3 - New Jersey 2 (SO)
Sunday, April 7, 2013
First Niagara Center
With one goal being the difference in 23 of their 38 games heading into Sunday, the Buffalo Sabres had grown accustomed to playing through the nail-biters this season. So after New Jersey scored shorthanded to tie things up at 2-2 five minutes into the third period, they were already in familiar territory.
Ryan Miller made 37 saves and held New Jersey scoreless in the shootout, as the Sabres held on and handed a struggling Devils team a 3-2 shootout decision at First Niagara Center. It was the Sabres’ 10th one-goal victory this season, with 15 of their last 20 games being decided by a single goal.
Patrick Kaleta and Steve Ott had the goals in regulation while Nathan Gerbe was the only player to score in the shootout, giving the Sabres their third win in a row. Gerbe also tallied an assist on Ott’s goal. Miller improved his career shootout record to 41-27, one win shy of his counterpart Martin Brodeur for second all-time. The Sabres out-hit the Devils, 44-17.
New Jersey has lost eight of its last 10 games as it sits in ninth place in the Eastern Conference, two points ahead of Buffalo.
Patrick Kaleta scored his first goal this season when Jochen Hecht intercepted a breakout attempt by the Devils and shoveled the puck toward the net. Kaleta, breaking in from the corner, cut in front of the puck and redirected it with a flick over Martin Brodeur’s left pad, opening the game’s scoring with 4:22 gone. New Jersey evened the score after an exhausted Kevin Porter got caught for a cross-check to end a prolonged 2:20 shift. Steve Sullivan scored five seconds into the ensuing power play to tie the game at intermission.
After the Sabres struggled to generate much momentum in the first half of the period, John Scott gave the team a boost with a booming open-ice hit on David Clarkson. Moments later, the Sabres recaptured their lead when a big save by Miller sent Gerbe and Cody Hodgson on a rush down the ice where they connected on a series of tic-tac-toe passes to find a wide-open Steve Ott in front of the New Jersey net. Ott then promptly beat a flailing Brodeur top shelf with a wrister five feet away for his eighth goal this season.
With Buffalo on the power play just over five minutes into the period, Mark Fayne scored the Devils’ league-leading 10th shorthanded goal tied the game at the 14:14 mark.
Neither team found the back of the net in the overtime period as the Sabres won the shot battle, 4-2. After Tyler Ennis lost the puck on his shootout attempt, Gerbe followed with a snapshot, scoring glove-side low from 15 feet out to give the Sabres the edge. Miller shut down all three New Jersey shooters to seal Buffalo’s fifth shootout victory.
BEHIND THE NUMBERS
With his goal, Steve Ott has a point in each of his last five games against the Devils and is on a three-game point streak... Kaleta scored his first goal since Feb. 8, 2012 against Boston, a 53-game span. He has four career goals against New Jersey, his highest total against any team... With his assist, Jochen Hecht has three (1+2) points in his last two games... Buffalo is 10-8-6 in one-goal games this season... Tonight was the third and final meeting between the Sabres and the Devils this season and the 139th all-time; Buffalo is 71-45-23 against New Jersey (38-22-10 at home).
BUFFALO’S RECORD WHEN...
Scoring first: 12-4-4
Tied after one period: 10-7-3
Leading after two periods: 7-0-4
Game decided by shootout: 5-4
Overall: 17/140 (12.1%)
Home: 9/68 (13.2%)
Overall: 118/152 (77.6%)
Home: 45/59 (76.3%)
* Tuesday at Winnipeg, 8 p.m.
* Thursday vs. Montreal, 7:30 p.m.
* Saturday vs. Philadelphia, 3 p.m.