Another Valiant Effort in Buffalo Sabres Loss to the New Jersey Devils

Leading almost every category except for goals scored, the Buffalo Sabres fell to the New Jersey Devils by a score of 3-1 Friday night at the First Niagara Center. With their 44th loss of the season, the Sabres are now sitting in the basement of the league standings, three points behind Arizona.

The Devils number one line of Adam Henrique, Scott Gomez, Steve Bernier combined for 6 points on the night (2 G, 4 A). Ex-Sabre Steve Bernier provided both the goals for his line. With this win, Bernier and his Devils have now won three straight games and are 10-3-2 in their past 15 games. Remember when they were a part of the tank watch in the early parts of January? Well, tank no more. The Devils were able to power through for another win without key forwards Mike Cammalleri and Patrik Elias. 

 Devils forward Steve Bernier slides his 100th career goal past Buffalo goaltender Anders Lindback Friday night at First Niagara Center.  Photo courtesy of the Associated Press

Devils forward Steve Bernier slides his 100th career goal past Buffalo goaltender Anders Lindback Friday night at First Niagara Center.

Photo courtesy of the Associated Press

Matt Moulson scored the lone Sabres goal, his 11th of the year, on a power play that came late in the third. Following a big clapper from high in the slot off the stick of Tyler Ennis, Moulson was able to tap home the preliminary chance that slipped out behind Devils goaltender Keith Kinkaid. After a barrage of chances seen throughout the game, it was quite the relief to see something worthy of a few claps from the sold out crowd at FNC.

Johan Larsson, looking to extend his streak of six points (3 G, 3 A) in the past 5 games, had numerous chances come his way throughout the game. In fact, he even lit the lamp early in the first but had his goal called back due to the FIFA move he pulled to roof it above Kinkaid.

“It was a rush and I missed the shot, the rebound came out, I saw the puck and I tried to stop, but my skate was in the air and in the way” (Larsson on his goal that was discredited early in the 1st).

Try as he may, his kick was seen as distinct enough to have the goal overturned. After being denied on a plethora of chances throughout the game, one could say that it was a distinct and desperate kick that had the goal recalled. His recent offensive efforts have not gone unnoticed, however. After logging what could be a career-high (pending confirmation) 20:36 minutes in tonight’s game, Sabres head coach Ted Nolan had quite the high remarks for his top center’s play as of late:

“A lot of guys are playing for jobs.  Look at Larsson, he has made a good name for himself and has taken advantage of it (his opportunity in the NHL).”

With the end of the season in sight, and many eyes glued to the bottom of the standings, it will be a two-sided battle between players playing for jobs and an organization looking to acquire assets for next season. With the stakes set, time and the remaining schedule are the only two factors that will remain neutral for the rest of the season. The season ends April 11th and the 30th-placed Buffalo Sabres still have some meaningful hockey to play.

Coming up next for the Sabres, they travel South for a two-game road trip. They will play the currently slumping Nashville Predators and Lindy Ruff’s Dallas Stars before returning home to take on the Arizona Coyotes in what could be the biggest game of the year.

Ted Nolan confirmed that Matt Hackett will get the start for the Sabres tomorrow night in Nashville. Hackett is winless in the two games he has played in this year for the Sabres. Puck drop for tomorrow night’s game is scheduled for 8:00 PM at Bridgestone Arena.