NEWARK, N.J. -- The Buffalo Sabres spoiled Nico Hischier's debut as captain of the New Jersey Devils with a 3-2 win at Prudential Center on Saturday.
Sam Reinhart scored twice, Colin Miller scored, and Linus Ullmark made 25 saves for the Sabres (5-7-2), who ended a four-game losing streak, including three straight following a two-week pause due to NHL COVID-19 protocol.
"We were supporting the puck, we were moving our feet," Reinhart said. "I felt like we were getting everyone into the game, which was really important. And, you know, I think it showed you that energy levels lead to the kind of grind that went out.
"It obviously hasn't been going our way since we were able to come back, but I think getting on the road has been important for our guys. I would say that we can't go anywhere, so to spend some time traveling and in hotels has helped us."
Kyle Palmieri and P.K. Subban scored, and Mackenzie Blackwood made 26 saves for the Devils (6-4-2). It was their first loss in four games, including three since returning from 15 days off because of NHL COVID-19 protocol.
"I don't think we skated very well and, as a team, we were low on energy," New Jersey coach Lindy Ruff said. "Got to give them credit, they beat us to a lot of pucks, they forced us into some turnovers. They're energy seemed to be better than ours."
Video: BUF@NJD: Miller wires a wrist shot passed Blackwood
Hischier was named the 12th captain in Devils history prior to making his season debut. The 22-year-old center injured his foot this offseason and was in protocol since Feb. 8 before being removed Saturday. He had one shot on goal in 16:29 of ice time.
"He's behind when it comes to game conditioning, but his compete, level of energy, was great," Ruff said. "I think it's just going to take him a little bit to catch up, but he's a guy who's extremely positive and is doing the right things every time he gets out there. I really think it's important that Nico has to be Nico."
Miller gave the Sabres a 1-0 lead on a snap shot from the right point at 5:26 of the first period. Taylor Hall assisted on the goal; it was his first game in New Jersey since the forward was traded by the Devils to the Arizona Coyotes on Dec. 16, 2019. Hall signed a one-year contract with the Sabres on Oct. 11.
"We controlled play until about halfway through the third period ... they started to take over," Hall said. "But you knew they were going to push. I think we were connected as a group and forwards were making plays."
Video: BUF@NJD: Reinhart redirects slap-shot to extend lead
Reinhart scored on a deflection from the slot to give the Sabres a 2-0 lead at 8:07 of the second period. He scored his second of the game on the power play with a redirection from the slot at 17:46 of the second for a 3-0 lead.
"We were able to kind of recognize early in the power play that that they weren't really focusing on me too much," Reinhart said of his second goal. "I kind of did two takes, and on the second one, was able to find a backdoor play after a little adjustment."
Palmieri scored 40 seconds into the third period on a snap shot from the left circle to pull the Devils within 3-1.
"We knew they were going to be hungry team," Palmieri said. "We weren't playing our game and doing the things that made us successful coming out of the break. I thought the response in the third period was awesome, we pressed and had chances to tie the game."
Video: BUF@NJD: Palmieri roofs snap-shot off the far post
Subban scored a power-play goal to make it 3-2 off a slap shot from the top of the right circle at 16:44 of the third. The Devils pulled Blackwood for a 6-on-4 advantage.
"It feels great to be back on the ice and battling with the guys," Hischier said. "When you look at the (third) period, that's how we should be playing for three periods. We know it's not enough ... one period. But it gives us something for tomorrow."
NOTES: Sabres defenseman Jake McCabe left the game after sustaining a lower-body injury at 8:57 of the third period. Buffalo coach Ralph Krueger said he was "very concerened." … Devils forward Travis Zajac, who spent 19 days in protocol before being removed Wednesday, played 15:22 in his first game since Jan. 28. It was his 999th NHL game. … Hall received a video tribute in the first period. He scored 208 points (76 goals, 132 assists) in 211 games in four seasons with the Devils from 2016-20 and was voted the Hart Trophy winner as NHL MVP in 2017-18. ... The start time for the Devils game at the Washington Capitals on Sunday was moved from 7 p.m. ET to 2 p.m. ET.
Video: Reinhart lifts Sabres over Devils