Devils fall behind early and can't recover, dropping a 7-2 decision at KeyBank Center.
BUFFALO, NY - It was the home opener for the Buffalo Sabres, who kicked off their 50th season and a fast start from the home side on top of three power play goals resulted in a 7-2 decision, sending the Devils home empty handed.
Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac scored for the Devils, who were outshot 36-20.
New Jersey returns home after the game for a few days of practice before departing for Philadelphia. The game can be seen on MSG and heard on the Devils Hockey Network, including right here at NewJerseyDevils.com. Puck drop is 7:08 p.m. ET.
"Right now, the second half of last night and tonight we played a soft, light easy game and that's not effective in this League," said an unhappy Devils head coach John Hynes after the game. "We're playing like we want to have an easy game. We can talk about it nine different ways but that's the reality of where we're at right now."
Buffalo's strong forechecking in the opening two minutes resulted in a Will Butcher holding penalty and a minute into that man advantage, the home side converted.
Jack Eichel threaded the puck over to Victor Olofsson at the top of the left circle and he made no mistake, ripping the puck past Devils starting netminder Mackenzie Blackwood for the power play goal.
Sabres starting goaltender Carter Hutton made a pair of big stops, first on Jesper Boqvist from the slot and then on Nikita Gusev on the rebound seven minutes in.
With just under eight minutes to go in the first, shots on goal were 11-4 for the Sabres.
Blake Coleman got called for holding at the 17:04 mark of the openign frame to give the Sabres their second power play of the night and Buffalo converted again 22 seconds later.
Blackwood slid across to deny Jeff Skinner on a quick Sabres chance off the draw but Jack Eichel was at the doorstep to put home the rebound into the open cage and double Buffalo's lead to 2-0.
"It's a weekend, you could say it's the first two games of the year but it was a humbling weekend. We got embarassed on home ice then went to another building and got embarassed again," noted Kyle Palmieri. "It's something we need to rectify. Two tough buildings to play in next week (Philadelphia and Boston). We need to figure it out fast."
After one, shots on goal were 14-4 in favor of Buffalo.
Kyle Palmieri redirected a feed from Taylor Hall past Hutton to get the Devils on the board only 37 seconds into the second period. Palmieri's blast came from the hashmarks.
Two minutes later, Kyle Okposo's wrist shot from the point found its way through multiple screens past Blackwood to give the Sabres back their two-goal lead.
Blackwood made an excellent stop off Eichel on the breakaway near the midway point of the second but a minute later, Skinner wired a shot high off the rush to make it 4-1 Buffalo.
With Coleman in the box for tripping, the Sabres struck for their third power play goal of the night with 6:27 to go in the period. Olofsson's shot from the right circle was blocked but the puck found its way back to him and he then blasted it by Blackwood to make it 5-1.
A minute after that goal, Hall was hit hard into the boards by Jake McCabe. Moments later, Simmonds dropped the gloves with the Sabres defenseman. Simmonds ended up with four minutes for roughing while McCabe got two for roughing. Result was another Sabres power play. Subban and Simmonds each got 10-minute misconducts as well.
After two, shots on goal were 12-5 for the Devils.
A minute into the third period, Travis Zajac got the Devils on the board early in the third to make it a three-goal deficit, wiring a wrist shot short side.
Sam Reinhart fired the puck in to put the Sabres back up by four several minutes later and then scored on a breakaway with four minutes left to make the final 7-2.
"It's no magic solution," Palmieri added when asked about how to turn it around. "Teams are good, they're structured. They're going to get pucks back sometimes and put it in areas where our D is going to have a tough time getting a clean breakout. When the other teams get the puck we have to do a better job."