The Buffalo Sabres finally got their power play working Saturday night and it helped them earn two points in the standings.
Matt Moulson and Matt D’Agostini each tallied with the man advantage in Buffalo’s 2-1 win over the New Jersey Devils at a sold-out First Niagara Center. Ryan Miller stopped 20 shots in goal.
The Sabres hadn’t scored two power-play goals in the same game since Oct. 8 against Tampa Bay.
D’Agostini, who netted the game-winner with 8:11 remaining in the third period, scored his first of the season and his first since April 18 when he was with the Devils.
“It was good. I’ve been getting the chances, just not capitalizing on them,” D’Agostini said. “I was trying not to let that wear on me too much and just keep playing my game, but it was good to get one to fall tonight.”
The Sabres are 6-0-1 in their last seven home games and have points in seven straight at home for the first time since a run from February 19 to March 7, 2012. Coming off two losses on the road, the Sabres felt like it was important to come back and earn two points.
“We definitely need that and we’ve got to start translating it into road games obviously, but at least we can come home and have a good effort and keep building,” Miller said.
The last time the two teams played, the Devils scored the game’s only goal with 40.2 seconds in overtime. For almost two full periods, it looked like the two clubs could be battling in yet another extended goalless affair.
That is until Moulson put in his 14th goal of the season.
Moulson opened the scoring with 30.4 seconds remaining in the second period on the power play. Tyler Ennis skated around the Devils net and put a puck on goal, only to have the rebound deflect to Moulson, who lifted it into the net over Cory Schneider’s blocker.
“It was a great play by [Ennis] circling around there and throwing it in front. I was lucky enough to kind of find it and put it in the net,” Moulson said. “Marcus did a great job in front of the net and kind of took that defender with him, kind of left me open there so it was a good play and we were generating some good chances on that little segment there.”
He’s scored seven of his eight goals since joining the Sabres on home ice.
The Devils only goal came when Michael Ryder capitalized on a New Jersey 5-on-3 power play. Going to the net, Ryder lost the puck to teammate Travis Zajac at the top of the crease, who slipped it back to Ryder for a shot that went over Miller’s shoulder.
Other than that, the Sabres killed off New Jersey’s other three power play chances and limited them to 22 shots on goal. It’s only the sixth time this seasons that the Sabres have held their opponent to 25 or fewer shots.
“I thought our PK was really good and we did a nice job forcing them and taking away their passing lanes,” Miller said. “They [scored on] a little bit of a broken play. He mishandled the puck, his guy tapped it right back to him. It was a little bit of an advantage there, but other than that, that’s a good effort by us on the shorthanded side.”
Buffalo had trouble scoring goals as of late. In that two-game road trip that preceded the Devils game, the Sabres were outscored 7-1 and were shutout in the first game against Winnipeg.
Both goals on Saturday came with bodies in front of the net and players crashing the crease. Marcus Foligno was right in front of Schneider on Moulson’s tally. On D’Agostini’s goal, captain Steve Ott came from the corner to put a shot on Schneider and D’Agostini came in from the slot to bury the chance.
“We haven’t been getting many goals so more than likely they’re going to be pretty ugly,” Moulson said. “We’re fine with that and we’re going to have to keep doing that, getting pucks to the net, get guys driving to the net and getting those dirty goals.”
The Sabres know that’s the style they’re going to have to consistently play if they want to have continued success.
“That’s what we have to do. Our team’s not pretty. It’s simple hockey,” Sabres defenseman Tyler Myers said. “That’s exactly how we got the goals and that’s what we need to continue to do going into future games.”
The Sabres are at home again Tuesday when they host the Carolina Hurricanes at 7 p.m.