NEWARK, N.J. - Sam Reinhart scored to set a new career-high in points and the Buffalo Sabres played to a 35-24 shot advantage, but another comeback effort came up short in what ended as a 4-1 loss to the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center on Sunday.
The Sabres trailed 2-1 after Reinhart scored with 55.2 seconds remaining in the second period, then outshot the Devils 11-6 in the third. Their comeback push ended when Devils forward Kyle Palmieri picked the near-side corner with a backhand shot from in-tight to cap a three-point outing (1+2) with 5:51 remaining.
"I felt that we did a lot of good things with the puck again," Sabres coach Phil Housley said. "We didn't get the break we needed. We got tip-ins, we got rebounds, we hit a post. But we can't get away from our game. It's a one-goal game. I feel that we're right there in the third period.
"Our possession time, our zone time, we had some momentum. We had some really good shifts. We just didn't cash in, so from that point we've just got to remain and stay the course. When we have to defend, defend, and then we can come back and get a regroup or get back into their zone."
Video: BUF Recap: Reinhart scores as Sabres fall to Devils
The Devils built their lead with a pair of goals in the second period, beginning when Miles Wood buried a Palmieri feed on a 2-on-1 rush. Palmieri later found Travis Zajac with a crossing pass on the power play, which Zajac buried with a one-time shot to the far side past Carter Hutton.
"It was just a couple mistakes that end up in the back of our net," Reinhart said. "I think, for the most part, the urgency was there. But it's a couple mistakes that wind up in the net. I mean, I made a couple plays I would like back. It's tough to swallow right now."
Reinhart and Housley both felt that added presence in front of Devils goalie Cory Schneider could have been the difference. The Sabres did force Schneider to make a few grade-A stops, including point-blank stops on Casey Mittelstadt and Jack Eichel.
"Honestly, it didn't feel like we got enough to him," Reinhart said. "I looked up in the third and we did have quite a few shots, but from what I gather it wasn't too many second or third opportunities around him, so I think we've got to focus more on maybe keeping it a little more simple and getting more bodies to the net."
The Sabres remain six points out of a playoff spot with the loss, but they continued to look forward afterward.
"At the end of the day, we've got to bear down and yeah, we need to start putting up more points soon," Reinhart said. "We're focused on getting back and getting ready for the Panthers because that's another chance to put up points."
"I believe in our group," Housley added. "I believe in these guys. They came back, they responded the right way. They were ready to play. It wasn't our night. I know that's disappointing, but we've got a big game against Florida. We're still in this thing, we're still fighting, and that's the way we're going to look at it."
51 and counting
Reinhart's goal was his 51st point in 58 games, surpassing his previous career-high of 50 set in 82 games last season. He's also set career-highs in assists (36) and multi-point games (15) this season.
The goal began with a faceoff win by Jeff Skinner on the left dot in the offensive zone. Jack Eichel chased down the puck and fed a pinching Zach Bogosian, who found Reinhart wide open at the other side of the net.
Video: BUF@NJD: Reinhart buries Bogosian's pass late in 2nd
Eichel's assist was his 62nd point, two shy of his career-best mark from last season.
It never amounted to anything more than a punishing hit in the corner from Bogosian in the third period, but the defenseman had multiple confrontations with Devils forward Kurtis Gabriel during warmups:
Bogosian chuckled when asked about the incident after the game.
"We bumped into each other," he said. "Just crossed up skates a little bit, that's about it."
The road trip continues in Florida on Wednesday night. Coverage on MSG-B begins at 6:30 p.m. with the GMC Game Night pregame show, or you can listen live on WGR 550. The puck drops at 7.
The Sabres return home to host the Washington Capitals on Saturday at 1 p.m. Tickets are available here.