NEWARK, N.J. - The Sabres finally earned the multi-goal effort that had eluded them in their last three games with two goals against the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center on Saturday night. The trouble is, they had already allowed four goals by the time they scored their second.
Buffalo found itself in an early hole after an admittedly slow start and then gave up three-straight goals after Marcus Foligno tied the game early in the second period of a 4-2 loss.
Video: BYLSMA: Postgame Interview at NJD
It was the second meeting in as many days between the two teams, with New Jersey having won 2-1 in overtime at KeyBank Center on Friday.
"They're a good team over there, but they just kept us on the outside," said Sabres goalie Robin Lehner, who made 23 saves. "I've got to play better, but I feel like we open up a bit too much. I feel like the counter-rushes are hurting us sometimes. Yeah, we're just playing a little bit too open."
Video: LEHNER: Postgame Interview at NJD
Kyle Quincey opened the scoring for the Devils with a shot from that point that skipped in through net-front traffic just 4:01 into the contest, but the Sabres responded to their sluggish start by playing their best hockey of the night after the first intermission.
It eventually resulted in Foligno's goal, which tied the game at 1-1 with 16:49 still remaining in the second period. Brian Gionta had forced a turnover in the neutral zone and made a pass that deflected off a defender and found its way to Foligno alone in front of the net. Foligno beat Devils goalie Cory Schneider with a far-side shot.
Video: BUF@NJD: Foligno gets behind defense, beats Schneider
Just when it seemed Foligno had brought the Sabres back in the game, they let it get away. Nick Lappin scored to reclaim the lead for the Devils less than three minutes later, and Kyle Palmieri padded the lead with another goal five minutes after that.
Video: FOLIGNO: Postgame Interview at NJD
Lappin's goal was the product of a 2-on-1 rush that began with a Sabres turnover as they entered the offensive zone. Ben Lovejoy made a breakout pass off the boards that got by Sabres defenseman Casey Nelson in the neutral zone. The puck found its way onto the stick of Taylor Hall, who delivered a perfect crossing pass to Lappin to set up the goal.
Palmieri beat Lehner high to his glove side with a shot from the right circle to increase the lead to 3-1 with 8:43 remaining in the period.
"It was a tough play, a little breakdown there for their second one and the third one they make a good play," forward Kyle Okposo said. "It's tough to see, we just have to try and grab that momentum and run with it and not give them any life. Just a mistake cost us and it's OK, I mean we're gonna learn from that. We've got to find ways to score."
Video: Okposo: Postgame Interview at NJD
"They kept playing the same way and we opened up," Lehner said. "We open up, 2-on-1, it's 2-1. Cross-ice pass, I come over, I want to make that save. Good shot, 3-1, we're in a hole and we've got to find something to come back. We come out in the third and I just don't think we really got it going."
The Devils scored again on a 2-on-1 rush 6:32 into the third period, this time with Adam Henrique carrying the puck through the neutral zone and feeding defenseman John Moore for the goal with a crossing pass.
Matt Moulson gave the Sabres life with 10:01 remaining when he caught the puck near the crease and squeezed a tight shot between Cory Schneider and the near-side post. The goal was Moulson's team-leading sixth of the season and his second in as many nights.
Video: BUF@NJD: Moulson roofs a shot short side on Schneider
A familiar problem prevented the Sabres from ever truly threatening for a comeback. Buffalo took two penalties after Moulson's goal and five on the night, including one during their only power play of the game in the first period. Forced to play shorthanded for four of the final 10 minutes of the game, the Sabres were never able to cut the deficit to one.
Video: GIONTA: Postgame Interview at NJD
The lost time was especially crippling given that Buffalo was playing without its top center in Ryan O'Reilly, who missed the game due to injury.
"There are some guys out," Lehner said. "These times, everyone's got to step up a little bit more and play a little bit better. It's not like we've lost five in a row or anything either, but we can't be satisfied with mediocrity. We've got to work at it and we've got to change a few things and get better."
A change at the top
William Carrier found himself playing on the top line alongside Okposo and Sam Reinhart on some shifts in the second and third periods, with Evander Kane relegated to the third line alongside Moulson and Zemgus Girgensons. Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said afterwards that he hopes to see more from Kane, who played his third game since returning from cracked ribs.
"Will was playing good and I need more from Evander," Bylsma said. "I put Will up in that spot."
The Sabres have a day off Sunday prior to returning to practice at KeyBank Center on Monday afternoon. Then, it's off to St. Louis for a game against the Blues on Tuesday night. Coverage on Tuesday begins at 7:30 p.m. with the TOPS Pregame Show on MSG-B, or you can listen live on WGR 550.
The puck drops between the Sabres and Blues at 8 p.m.