March 10, 2007
By Brian Wheeler
The Buffalo Sabres power play unit got caught and they've been getting caught of late.
While Sergei Brylin sat comfortably in the penalty box for four minutes after bloodying Derek Roy
with a high stick, the New Jersey Devils capitalized on a shorthanded, odd-man rush to tack on the winning goal of a 3-2 victory at HSBC Arena.
It was off to the races for Jim Dowd, who blocked Nathan Paetsch's point shot to create the rush. Dowd spun and setup trailer Brian Rafalski for his fourth game-winning goal of the season at 19:32 of the second period.
Buffalo was overloaded down low looking for a rebound or deflection.
"To get a shorthanded goal to let the other team win the game is a tough way to lose a game," said head coach Lindy Ruff. "We had Brian [Campbell] deep down low and if the shot gets through or even if [Paetsch] passes it to Brian, we're in pretty good position."
Disheartening as that goal was, it has become a common occurrence during Buffalo's three-game losing streak. In each loss, a shorthanded tally by the opposition has played a major role in determining each contest's outcome.
Not scoring on the double minor would have hurt momentum, but allowing the game winner with the man advantage and only 48 seconds remaining in the second period against the Eastern Conference's best defensive team was fatal.
It also sapped any energy Buffalo created from tying the game three minutes earlier.
"That kind of killed us," said Drew Stafford of the shorthanded goal. "It was tough to get back from that."
"That one hurts. We battled hard after that and didn't just give up. We created some chances, but it just didn't go our way."
Buffalo outshot the Devils 10-6 in the third period, 33-26 for the game, but couldn't get the equalizer past Martin Brodeur.
In their last five games, Buffalo's special teams have been anything but special, going 2-15 for a 13.3 percent success rate.
"There hasn't been a real flow of power plays in our last three games," said Paetsch. "It was just one or two here and there."
Buffalo, who has sat atop the Eastern Conference since opening night, is now just one point ahead of New Jersey in the standings.
"We want to win our conference and it was definitely a game we wanted to win," said Paetsch. "But we have to move on."
It took five games, but Dainius Zubrus finally recorded a point as a Buffalo Sabre.
Zubrus fired a wristshot from the right wing that deflected off Brad Lukowich's stick and over the outstretched glove of Martin Brodeur to give Buffalo the 1-0 lead at 3:23 of the first. The goal is Zubrus' 21st of the season; his first 20 came as a member of the Washington Capitals.
Cutting down the slot, Travis Zajac redirected Jamie Langenbrunner's wristshot over Ryan Miller's right shoulder to tie the game two minutes later.
"A team like that, they play really well defensively," said Stafford. "There isn't really end-to-end action going on."
Michael Rupp gave New Jersey its first lead with a little garbage cleanup. Rupp scored his fifth goal of the season and made the score 2-1 collecting a loose puck in front and slipping it just inside the left post just 33 seconds into the second period.
A quick shot by Paetsch and a redirection by Daniel Briere tied the game at 2-2.
Slipping into position in front of Brodeur, Briere got just enough of the defenseman's wristshot from the point to alter it's path over the goalie's right pad at 16:12 of the second.
Game Summary | Super Stats | Face-offs | Play-by-Play | Shift Chart