The Winter Classic date with the New York Rangers is looming, but the Buffalo Sabres had a date with the New Jersey Devils first in Newark. The Devils are one of the more surprising teams this season. They have a lot of speed and skill we saw on display back in their first meeting in October.
The Sabres started the game off pretty well putting some early pressure on goaltender Cory Schneider. However, it was the Devils who would get on the scoreboard first. Buffalo native Miles Wood cleaned up a loose puck in a scramble drill in front of Robin Lehner for his 10th of the season.
After the opening 20 minutes, the home team would hold a 1-0 lead. The Devils also held a 12-11 lead in shots after one.
The second period was an odd one. Jacob Josefson got the Sabres first goal of the game on a breakaway, scoring against his former team. From that point on it was all New Jersey. All that was missing at times was the Harlem Globetrotter music in the background
Marcus Johansson put the Devils back up on a one-timer with the man advantage. A little over five minutes later defenseman John Moore added to the lead on a point shot that got through traffic in front of Lehner.
The Devils looked to head into the final period with a two-goal lead, but Jack Eichel deflected a Jake McCabe shot by Schneider with 1:05 left in the middle frame. The Sabres were outshot 13-3 in the period but scored on two of their shots. Luckily, they somehow found themselves down only one after 40 minutes.
In the third, the Sabres started to push pressure on the Devils again like we saw in the first period. The eventually broke through on the power play of all things with under nine minutes left in regulation. Kyle Okposo threw a cross-ice pass to Eichel who buried his second of the night to tie the game at three.
Just over a minute, later things seemed to turn back to how it’s been all season. A bad neutral zone turnover allowed Taylor Hall to walk in and beat Lehner to put the Devils back in front, or so we thought. Phil Housley challenged the play for offsides and for once to the delight of the Sabres (and probably Lehner) the call went in their favor. The goal was waved off and we remained tied.
Real quick aside, if you know what offsides is in the NHL these days please feel free to share.
The game would head to overtime where the Sabres are 1-7 this season. Again, for once, things went the Sabres way. They had a few chances in an exciting extra session. Finally, Rasmus Ristolainen got free on a broken play off of a faceoff and won the game for the Sabres.
Next up, the Winter Classic on Monday.
Final Score: Sabres 4, Devils 3 (OT)
Shots on Goal: Sabres 29 | Devils 38
Sabres Goal Scorers: Josefson (2), Eichel (14, 15) and Ristolainen (1)
Devils Goal Scorers: Wood (10), Johansson (5) and Moore (5)
Three Stars of the Game
1. Jack Eichel (2 G)
2. Rasmus Ristolainen (1 G, 1 A, GWG)
3. Robin Lehner (35 saves on 38 shots, .921 save percentage)
Comment of the Game
They come back 3 times
Get a call on the road to reverse a goal scored on them
Win in OT? On a goal by a defenseman?
Better buy that lottery ticket, the luck has changed
Go Sabres! (and take the Bills with you)