Beating the New Jersey Devils over the past few years has been very difficult for the Buffalo Sabres. Taking them to a shootout this season certainly hasn't provided the winning formula.
The Sabres hope to avoid getting swept in a season series by the Devils for the first time in a decade on Wednesday night when the teams meet at HSBC Arena.
New Jersey has dominated the series with Buffalo lately, going 16-4-0 with three ties since the start of the 2001-02 season. The Devils' three victories over the Sabres this season have decided in a shootout.
|The Sabres hope to avoid a season-series sweep at the hands of the Devils as they host Martin Brodeur and his New Jersey teammates at HSBC Arena tonight. (AP Photo/Don Heupel)
Buffalo (24-21-7) hasn't lost all four games to New Jersey in a season series since 1997-98.
The Sabres' last meeting with the Devils was one of their most frustrating losses of the season as they squandered a two-goal lead before losing 3-2 in a shootout at home on Jan. 12.
After falling behind 3-1 in the third period, New Jersey (30-20-3) appeared headed for its fourth loss in five games Monday against Pittsburgh. The Devils, though, got goals from Patrik Elias and David Clarkson less than two minutes apart midway through the final period and Zach Parise scored 37 seconds into overtime for a 4-3 victory.
Instead of completing a 1-4-0 homestand, New Jersey brings a two-game winning streak to Buffalo before returning to the Prudential Center for four straight games.
"It wasn't reinventing the wheel," said Parise, who had two assists to go with his 20th goal. "We had to put forth a better effort and we did in the third. Hopefully we saw the way we need to play."
Elias had a goal and two assists in the win, giving him six goals and four assists in his past six contests. Also contributing offensively is captain Jamie Langenbrunner, who has three goals and five assists during a seven-game point streak.
The Devils, who trail Atlantic Division-leading Philadelphia by two points, have outscored opponents 14-6 during a three-game road win streak.
Buffalo continued its strong play of late with a 4-2 victory Tuesday at Boston. Daniel Paille scored twice and Ryan Miller stopped 30 shots for the Sabres, who are 4-0-1 in their last five games - all on the road - after winning just once in the previous 13 overall contests (1-7-5).
"After the first two games (of the road trip), we knew we needed to pick it up," Paille said. "We're not in a playoff spot yet, so we've got to keep it up."
The victory moved Buffalo up to 10th in the Eastern Conference, four points behind Boston for the eighth and final playoff berth.
Miller's outstanding play is one reason for the Sabres' resurgence. He is 4-0-0 with a 1.50 goals-against average in his last five starts, and has also played very well in three starts this season against the Devils, yielding four regulation goals on 90 shots.
Jason Pominville has also played a key role for Buffalo, tallying two goals and five assists in his last three games. He leads the team with 32 assists and 45 points.