New Jersey Devils Top Buffalo In First Shootout Win of Season
Photo courtesy of BILL KOSTROUN/AP
By Kristin Tullo (@K_Tullo)
Getting chances early on Jhonas Enroth but not finding ways to finish and misplayed pucks by Johan Hedberg, Thursdays game seem to have all the ingredients to make New Jersey Devils’ players and fans believe it would be a night like the last six.
Unable to get a shot on goal on their first power play, the Sabres took advantage of a tripping call of Anton Volchenkov, forcing the Devils to give up the first goal in eight consecutive games when Tyler Ennis won the battle in the corner, sliding a pass to an open Thomas Vanek.
When the Sabres made it 2-0 halfway through the third period, the Devils had a tough mountain to climb if they were going to snap their six-game losing streak but the fight the Devils continued to show made Buffalo know, they weren’t going down easy.
Adam Henrique scored his third goal in four games on the power play to begin the comeback, wristing a rebound off of his own shot that came off the leg of Sabres’ defenseman, Mike Weber, with 6:30 remaining in the game. With an extra attacked on the ice, David Clarkson took a shot from below the blue line and Patrik Elias cleaned up with a one timer off of the pads of Enroth who left the net wide open after making the original save.
For the second time in their last two meetings, the game went into a shootout where David Clarkson and Patrik Elias scored on Ryan Miller who replaced Enroth after the goalie injured himself trying to make a sprawling save on the Devils’ second goal of regulation. Unlike the last meeting though, Miller was unable to stop all of the Devils’ shooters and allowed them to gain the extra point and hold onto their seventh place spot in the Eastern Conference.
Getting big goals from their top line is something the Devils have been lacking and with Patrik Elias scoring back to back goals and Henrique finding his touch again in the last four games,the Devils look like they could have found their way back to how they were just a month ago. Hedberg may have also played his best game in his last seven starts, keeping his team in it with key saves but the netminder continues to struggle when coming out of his crease to play the puck.
Peter Harrold played great in only his second appearance and first as a defenseman for the Devils this season. He was credited with two hits and two shots on goal with a little over 21 minutes of ice time, including time on the power play. Tom Kostopoulos also looked to fit right in with linemates Ryan Carter and Stephen Gionta, making his Devils’ debut after being claimed off of waivers on March 6th. The 34-year old veteran had not played an NHL since April 7th as a member of the Calgary Flames where he played 81 games last season, finishing with four goals and eight assists. Not a huge offensive threat, Kostopoulus played well enough for Krys Barch to remain out of the lineup when the Devils faceoff against the Carolina Hurricanes (13-9-1)on Saturday night in Raleigh.