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Buffalo Sabres vs. New Jersey Devils

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GAME: Buffalo Sabres (28-27-6-1) at New Jersey Devils (32-17-11-1).

TIME: Wednesday, 7:30 p.m. EST.

Scott Gomez, Patrik Elias and Brian Gionta seem to have found their rhythm.

New Jersey's new top line looks to continue its strong play when the Devils go for their third straight win in a matchup with the Buffalo Sabres at Continental Airlines Arena.

Gomez, Elias and Gionta come off a productive weekend in which they had eight goals, seven assists and a plus-20 rating in consecutive victories - 7-3 over the New York Rangers on Saturday and 3-1 over Calgary on Sunday.

The trio, which now has 12 goals and 17 assists in seven games together, has helped New Jersey to a 4-1-1 record over the last six.

"They're playing hard," Devils coach Pat Burns said.

The last time New Jersey had a dominating line, Elias was playing alongside Petr Sykora and Jason Arnott - the line that led the Devils to a Stanley Cup in 2000 and the Cup finals the following year.

"We've had moments like this, but I think we are starting to realize for us to be successful all three of us have to get going," Gomez said. "One guy can't do it all. I think everyone in this locker room has played with someone where it all clicks."

Gomez scored twice - his first multigoal game of the season - and finished with a career high-tying five points against the Rangers before assisting on both of Elias' goals against the Flames. Elias has five goals in the last three games, and Gionta has three multipoint games in his last six outings.

"We're starting to get that feel, where we know where the other guy is going to be," added Gomez, who has nine points in the last three games.

Martin Brodeur made 18 saves against Calgary to push his unbeaten streak to five starts (4-0-1) after losing his previous three outings.

The win opened a three-game homestand for the Devils, who host Atlanta on Friday before kicking off a five-game road trip at Toronto on Saturday.

The Sabres had a six-game unbeaten streak snapped Saturday with a 4-1 loss to the New York Islanders on Saturday. Dmitri Kalinin scored the only goal for Buffalo, which was held to seven shots in the third period in losing for just the second time in 12 games.

"We've had a lot of pretty emotional games and a tough schedule," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. "We're not using that as an excuse, though. We didn't generate much the whole game."

The Sabres, fighting for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, close a two-game road trip against the Devils before hosting the Islanders on Friday.

STANDINGS (through Feb. 23): Sabres - 63 points, 5th place, 18 PB, Northeast Division. Devils - 76 points, 2nd place, 4 PB, Atlantic Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Sabres - Miroslav Satan, 24 goals; Daniel Briere, 28 assists and 49 points; Andrew Peters, 107 PIM. Devils - Elias, 25 goals and 52 points; Gomez, 34 assists; Colin White, 73 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Feb. 23): Sabres - Power play: 15.2 percent (41 for 269), 20th in NHL. Penalty killing: 85.1 percent (228 for 268), 10th. Devils - Power play: 15.9 percent (36 for 227), 16th (tied). Penalty killing: 85.4 percent (175 for 205), 5th (tied).

GOALTENDERS: Sabres - Biron (17-12-4, 0 SO, 2.60 GAA); Noronen (11-13-2, 2, 2.13). Devils - Brodeur (29-17-10, 10, 2.01); Corey Schwab (2-0-1, 1, 0.64).

SEASON SERIES: Devils, 2-0-1.

LAST MEETING: Dec. 19; Devils, 5-2. At Buffalo, N.Y., Brodeur made 31 saves and Gionta had two goals and an assist to send the Sabres to their seventh straight loss, tying a franchise record.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Sabres - 11-17-2-0 on the road; Devils - 17-10-4-1 at home.


Associated Press
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