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Just Falling Short in the Third

by Staff Writer / Buffalo Sabres
A pair of goals from their captains weren't enough to elevate the Buffalo Sabres over the New Jersey Devils on Friday night as the team suffered their second consecutive loss.

Chris Drury chipped in his first goal of the season off a nice behind-the-back pass from line mate and former Boston University teammate, Mike Grier at 13:42 in the third period to tie the game 2-2.

But the Devils would not be denied, as Sergei Brylin redirected Brian Rafalski's shot from the point for the power-play and game-winning goal a minute later to give New Jersey the 3-2 victory at the Continental Airlines Arena.

''(Drury) tried to take the bull by the horns in the third period,'' said head coach Lindy Ruff following the game. ''He and Danny (Briere) both scored and it's the example you need from your key players.''

''There is not much you can do about (the game-winning goal),'' continued Ruff, whose penalty-kill unit was in almost perfect position on the play. ''It's a tough goal to swallow, but it's a tough goal to defend at the same time.''

Both Brylin and Rafalski finished the game with a goal and an assist.

''The first period, the really good opportunities we had, we missed the net with,'' said Ruff. ''When we got in sync in the third period, we saw what we could do again.''

After recording just 17 shots on goal against Washington on Wednesday night, Buffalo's offense again struggled in the first two periods, recording 11 shots.

The team peppered the Devils with 16 shots in the third.

''Obviously, you're not going to beat anybody in this league playing one period,'' stated Drury. ''We have to play a full 60 minutes or there are going to be a lot of nights like this.''

''As a whole, we got it going as a team (in the final period),'' said Ruff, who reunited the line of Jochen Hecht, Grier and Drury in the third. ''(The success in that period) had nothing to do with line combinations, but with execution and players playing the system.''

Former Sabre, Eric Rasmussen recorded his first goal of the season and the first of the game at 16:42 of the opening period.

Scott Gomez extended the Devils' lead to two with a hard slap shot from the left face-off circle that beat Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller on his glove side at 3:51 of the second.

Miller made 24 saves in the loss and will most likely be unable to tie Ed Belfour's record for rookie wins in October as the team closes out the month tomorrow.

Head coach Lindy Ruff stated earlier in the week that Martin Biron would likely see action in one of Buffalo's two games this weekend.

Belfour was 7-3-0 with Chicago during the opening month of play in the 1990-91 season and after starting each of Buffalo's games this season, Miller holds a record of 6-4-0.

Briere cut the New Jersey lead to one at 12:15 of the third. His centering pass intended for Dmitri Kalinin deflected off a skate past Devils' netminder Scott Clemmensen. The goal was Briere's team-leading eighth of the season.

Clemmensen made 25 saves for New Jersey after starting in place of injured goaltender Martin Brodeur.

Buffalo travels to Long Island, N.Y. tomorrow to face the New York Islanders at 7:00 PM in Nassau Coliseum.

Scoresheet | Super Stats | Faceoff Comp | Play By Play | Shift Chart

Period 1
No scoring in the first period. Ryan Miller made 12 saves in the period.

Period 2
0-1 (16:42): Eric Rasmussen pumps a shot into the net past Ryan Miller for the first goal of the game. The former Sabre was wide open just feet in front of the crease and had no trouble chipping in Grant Marshall's pass from behind the red line. Marshall and Alexander Mogilny record the assists.

Period 3
0-2 (3:51): Scott Gomez guns a shot over the glove of Ryan Miller in the top-left corner of the net. The goal was Gomez's second of the season. Sergei Brylin is credited with the only assist on the play.

1-2 (12:15): Daniel Briere attacks the net from the corner and attempts to center the puck to Dmitri Kalinin, but his pass deflects off a Devil's skate into the net for his seventh goal of the season. Buffalo has now scored a power-play goal in each of the team's last four games. Dmitri Kalinin registers his fourth goal of the season.

2-2 (13:42): Mike Grier feeds college teammate, Chris Drury with a behind-the-back pass for his first goal of the season. Grier and Teppo Numminen record the assists.

2-3 (14:37): Brian Rafalski snaps a shot from the point that is deflected past Ryan Miller by Sergei Brylin to give New Jersey the lead a minute later. Brylin now has two points in the game. Rafalski and Paul Martin get the helpers.
Quotes provided by WGR 550-AM, the official radio partner of the Buffalo Sabres.
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