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Devil Of A Time In The Third

by Staff Writer / Buffalo Sabres
For the first 40 minutes of Saturday's contest against the New Jersey Devils, the Buffalo Sabres held a slim 1-0 lead and looked as if they could skate away with the team's second win at the Continental Airlines Arena this season.

Then the wheels fell off.

New Jersey opened the final frame pouring three goals past netminder Ryan Miller in the opening 4:33 en route to a 3-2 victory. Miller, who finished the game making 34 saves, has now dropped his last three starts since the All-Star break.

"We got the one goal lead and were in the position that we wanted to be in," said defenseman Nathan Paetsch, who logged a career-high 20:55 TOI. "I think we might have just tried to sit on that lead a little too much and they came out firing in the third on us."

Buffalo was badly out shot 15-5 in the final frame - 34-17 overall - by the Devils in the team's second tilt of a three-game road trip. The Sabres will travel to Atlanta on Tuesday night.

"You win and lose games in the third period," said Paetsch. "We've been coming out hard [in the first] and we just haven't been able to buckle down.

"When you get the lead in the third period, you have to become the best team in the league and give your opposition no opportunities whatsoever."

Teppo Numminen brought the Sabres within striking distance with four minutes remaining in regulation, scoring his first goal since April 15, 2006, but a late flurry behind New Jersey goaltender Martin Brodeur by the line of Daniel Briere, Jochen Hecht and Jason Pominville couldn't produce the tying tally.

With the victory, New Jersey moves to just four points behind Buffalo for top billing in the Eastern Conference.

"We got to take what teams give us and not try to push things out of our realm of possibilities," said Paetsch.

Chris Drury tied his single-season career-high with his 30th goal of the season to give Buffalo the 1-0 lead. Receiving a pass from Ales Kotalik in the slot, Drury faked a shot and beat an out-of-position Brodeur with a wraparound at 7:18.

Drury has been Buffalo's most effective forward in recent weeks. The goal was the co-captain's sixth in five games and also extended his points-scoring streak to a game shy of a half dozen (seven points, 6+1).

For the first time since January 19 in their 4-3 shootout victory over the Vancouver Canucks, Buffalo failed to score in the second period. Entering the game, the Sabres led the league in second period scoring with 79 goals; five ahead of Nashville and 11 up on third place Tampa Bay.

In the last five games, Buffalo had outscored their opponents 11-2 in the middle frame, but where shutout after being out shot by New Jersey 7-6.

In the span of 2:31, New Jersey would take a two-goal lead.

Miller stopped Colin White's point shot, but had the puck pried from his glove by John Madden and shoved over the goal line at 2:02 of the third to even the score 1-1.

The Devils took their first lead after a centering feed by Jamie Langenbrunner deflected off Dmitri Kalinin's right skate just 23 seconds after John Madden's goal.

A Buffalo turnover at their own blueline allowed Zach Parise room to fire a quick shot past Miller's outstretched glove to record his 20th goal of the season at 4:33.

Numminen recorded his first goal in 54 games to bring Buffalo within a goal. Jumping into a rush, the 38-year-old defenseman received an across-ice feed from Hecht and snapped a wristshot just inside the left post.

Prior to the Saturday night, Numminen's most recent score was an empty netter against Montreal on April 15, 2006.
Quotes and audio courtesy of WGR 550-AM, the official radio partner of the Buffalo Sabres.
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