Sabres eye first 3-game win streak in clash with Devils
The Buffalo Sabres will aim for their first three-game winning streak of the season when they host the sliding New Jersey Devils in Saturday's clash at First Niagara Center.
The Sabres have won two straight for the third time this season and are now 2-2-0 since longtime head coach Lindy Ruff was fired and replaced on an interim basis by Ron Rolston.
Buffalo was outscored 7-1 as Rolston went 0-2 in his first two games behind the bench, but the Sabres have regrouped with a pair of road wins in Florida. The Sabres posted a 2-1 regulation victory in Tampa on Tuesday and two nights later notched a 4-3 shootout decision over the Panthers.
The Sabres allowed Florida to tie the game with 1:26 left in regulation, but Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville each scored in the shootout to help Buffalo secure two points.
"Honestly, it's huge to be able to stick a couple in a row here," said Pominville. "If we want to make a run, we're going to have to keep doing that. You can't go win one, lose one, win one, lose two. You've got to get on a roll."
Down 3-2 after a goal-happy opening frame, the Panthers pulled even when Brian Campbell beat Buffalo's Ryan Miller with a slap shot from the left point at the 18:34 mark of the third period. Miller recorded 40 saves and stopped both of the Panthers attempts in the tiebreaker.
Buffalo will try to halt a three-game losing streak Saturday in Western New York and the club is just 3-6-1 as the host this season.
The Devils have fallen on hard times over the last few weeks, going 2-5-1 in eight games since a season-high five-game winning streak from Feb. 3-10. New Jersey has lost its last three contests in regulation and has been outscored by a combined 12-4 margin during that span.
New Jersey's last two setbacks both came at the hands of the Winnipeg Jets, who beat the Devils on the road last Sunday before also taking the rematch at MTS Centre on Thursday. It was not a home-and-home series since the Jets visited the New York Rangers in between their two tilts against the Devils.
After earning a 4-2 win in New Jersey, the Jets handed the Devils a 3-1 setback on Thursday. Andrew Ladd was the star for the Jets in Winnipeg, netting a pair of goals, including the go-ahead marker with 8:01 left to play.
Andrei Loktionov accounted for the lone New Jersey goal, with Johan Hedberg stopping 18-of-20 chances in the setback.
"We're a team that always comes back hard and we'll come back from this," said Hedberg.
With No. 1 goaltender Martin Brodeur not even eligible to come off injured reserve until Monday at the earliest, Hedberg will get the start again on Saturday. Rookie netminder Keith Kinkaid has been recalled to serve as the backup in Brodeur's absence, but Devils head coach Peter DeBoer said he plans on riding Hedberg until Brodeur is ready to recover from a sore back.
Brodeur has sat out the last three games with the injury.
The Devils are expected to get forward Ryan Carter back from a concussion on Saturday. Carter, who has sat out the last four games, was activated from injured reserve on Friday and is available for the tilt in Buffalo. He has two goals and three assists in 16 games this season.
New Jersey is 4-4-2 as the road club this season and will complete a three- game trip Monday in Toronto.
The Devils claimed three of the four meetings against Buffalo in 2011-12 and Jersey won both tests at First Niagara Center. The Sabres have dropped six of their last eight home tests against the Devils.