Not even on April 1 could the New Jersey Devils fool the opposition in the shootout.
Ville Leino, who does not have a goal this season, scored in the ninth round of the tiebreaker to lift the Buffalo Sabres to a 3-2 victory against New Jersey at First Niagara Center on Tuesday night.
"It definitely felt good," Leino said. "I've been feeling pretty good the last couple of practices. Obviously, I'll probably feel a little better tomorrow. That will encourage you to shoot more. I've got to keep shooting."
Tyler Ennis scored twice in regulation and again in the shootout for the Sabres, and goalie Nathan Lieuwen made 33 saves through 65 minutes and seven more in the tiebreaker for his first NHL win.
Dainius Zubrus and Tuomo Ruutu scored and Cory Schneider made 25 saves for the Devils, who fell to 0-11 in shootouts this season. They are 2-0-3 in their past five games and trail the Columbus Blue Jackets by three points for the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference race to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
"It is what it is. I don't haves any comments on the shootout. We've beaten that to death," DeBoer told The [Newark] Star-Ledger. "What are you going to do but move on? We got some help tonight. Columbus lost and Washington lost. We have to get ready for Friday night."
Jacob Josefson and Jaromir Jagr scored in the shootout for New Jersey, which entered the night with one goal in 30 attempts this season. Travis Zajac had a chance to win it for the Devils in the fifth round and hit the post, but Schneider kept the Devils alive with a save on Cory Conacher.
"Not only was it back and forth, but I had a 'Welcome To The NHL' moment when Jagr came down on me for that one," Lieuwen said. "I had a chance to win the game and I think I was a little too excited about what was happening. But then we managed to get the extra point after that, so it was good."
Leino eventually won it when he ripped a rising wrist shot past Schneider in the ninth round and Lieuwen denied rookie Mike Sislo, forcing the Devils (32-28-16) to leave Buffalo with one point instead of two.
"He's had a tough go, but he's a real good player," Sabres coach Ted Nolan said of Leino, who has gone 53 games without a goal this season. "I was glad to see him get one."
Zubrus gave the Devils a 1-0 lead when he ended a 20-game scoring drought 8:16 into the second period. With the teams at even strength, Michael Ryder sent a pass from behind the net in front to Zubrus, who poked it past Lieuwen for his 11th goal of the season and first since Jan. 30.
Ennis tied it for Buffalo at 1:39 of the third with his 20th goal of the season when he finished off a nice passing play with Drew Stafford and Leino, wristing Leino's feed from the right circle past Schneider to make it 1-1. It marked the second time in his career that Ennis has scored 20 goals in a season; he had 20 goals in 2010-11.
The Sabres grabbed their first lead of the night when Ennis scored again, this time on the power play, at 4:41. With Devils forward Steve Bernier off for high sticking, Cody Hodgson sent a long pass that found its way through the crease to Ennis, who quickly ripped it past Schneider to make it 2-1.
But the lead was short-lived; Ruutu tied it for New Jersey with a power-play goal 2:17 later. With Leino serving a holding penalty, Andy Greene sent a wrist shot from between the circles that Ruutu managed to redirect past Lieuwen to make it 2-2. It was Ruutu's seventh goal of the season.
Each team had four shots on goal in overtime, but New Jersey ultimately found itself on the losing end of yet another shootout. The Devils have lost an NHL-record 15 straight shootouts dating to last season.
"I don't know what it is, if we don't get up for the games enough or what," Schneider told the Star-Ledger. "Even against Florida [on Monday night], we let them crawl back in the game. Three games we should've had six points, we had four and that's probably going to be the difference at the end of the year."
Material from team media was used in this report