NEWARK, NJ -- Heading into Tuesday night, nine of the Buffalo Sabres’ last 17 games against the New Jersey Devils had been decided in overtime or a shootout. So naturally, their game at Prudential Center ended up being settled in the shootout.
Scott Gomez and Jacob Josefson tallied in the shootout as the Devils picked up a 2-1 victory. In regulation, Patrick Elias scored for New Jersey and Tyler Ennis then tied the game for Buffalo.
Michal Neuvirth turned aside 34 shots while Devils netminder Cory Schneider made 24 saves.
The Devils controlled play for most of the first period with Elias’ goal coming on the power play 6:18 into the game, but Buffalo was able to put together a strong second period and battle back.
“The effort was there. We had a little bit of a hiccup at the beginning but as far as the work and the compete level, it was there,” Sabres coach Ted Nolan said. “Shootouts are skill competition things and tonight they had a little bit more skill than us.”
It was Buffalo’s first shootout since Dec. 27, a 4-3 win over the New York Islanders. Neuvirth now as a 1-2 record in shootouts this season. He hadn’t been in one since Nov. 5.
“I felt pretty good. It’s a lottery in the shootout,” Neuvirth said. “One point, it’s big for me and I’ve got to take it as a positive and keep going.”
GOING IN ALONE
Neuvirth was called upon to make some big stops in the game, including one on a penalty shot attempt by Adam Henrique with 3:27 left in regulation.
Going in on a break, Henrique was hauled down from behind by Zach Bogosian and was awarded a penalty shot.
Henrique came in on Neuvirth, cut left and Neuvirth was able to get a piece of his shot.
“I tried to stay patient,” Neuvirth said. “I played with him in junior in Windsor so I kind of knew what he’s going do. It hit my blocker and it was a good save late in the game. At that point, I thought we were going to win, but it didn’t happen. We’ve just got to keep going.”
The Devils got on the board first 6:18 into the contest. A point shot by Eric Gelinas was craftily tipped into the net by Patrik Elias just before time expired on a Devils power play. The original time of the goal had it as an even-strength marker, but it was changed later in the game.
Tyler Ennis tied the game 27 seconds into the third period off a face off to the left of Schneider. Zemgus Girgensons dived forward to win the draw and, reaching out, tapped the puck over to Ennis, who was positioned to his left. Ennis took a quick shot that beat Scheider to tie the game.
“We’ve been talking about getting pucks to the net,” Ennis said. “Maybe in the past I would’ve tried to be a little cute with it, but right now, our emphasis is getting pucks to the net. I just tried to shoot it and they go in when you do that.”
Seven of Buffalo’s past nine games have been decided by a single goal. Their past three games have each ended with a final score of 2-1.
“There were a lot of good things to take out of the game,” Matt Ellis said. “Obviously the first period, I thought we sat back and there were some things that we talked about between periods. It was a bit of a wake-up call.
“I thought as the game went on, we played a solid team game. It’s nice to get the point. Obviously you want the two, but the boys battled really hard.
Buffalo next plays the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday at Wells Fargo Center before returning home on Friday to face the New York Rangers.