The Buffalo Sabres’ success over the last week has come at the expense of the New Jersey Devils.
Buffalo looks to record a third straight victory over the visiting Devils, who will try to avoid a season-high fourth consecutive defeat overall, on Thursday night.
The Sabres were mired in a season-worst four-game losing streak when they held on for a 3-2 win at New Jersey on Saturday. Two days later, Buffalo followed with a one-goal loss at the New York Islanders, but bounced back for Tuesday’s 4-1 road victory over the Devils.
Victor Olofsson recorded his seventh goal, Sam Reinhart had two assists and Linus Ullmark stopped a season-high 41 shots as Buffalo scored three times in the third period to beat New Jersey for the third time in four games this season. Ullmark has a 1.95 goals-against average and .942 save percentage while winning all three starts against the Devils this season.
“You could feel a surge and just a battle and compete level that was impressive,” Sabres coach Ralph Krueger said after Tuesday’s win.
“You know what? We’re pleased with just a really solid team effort. … Everybody really participating within the framework that we’re trying to do.”
Now the Sabres will focus on not only winning back-to-back games for the first time since Jan. 24 and 26, but also snap a season-high three-game home losing streak — during which they’ve been outscored 11-4. Buffalo’s last home victory came 4-3 in a shootout over New Jersey on Jan. 30.
The Devils followed that loss with a 5-3 victory at Buffalo to ignite a three-game winning streak. However, New Jersey has dropped three in a row since that run and allowed four goals in each of the last two contests.
On Tuesday, the Devils recorded a season-high 42 shots, but didn’t score until Nikita Gusev came through in the final minute. They’ve also allowed 78 shots on goal in the last two games.
“A good thing about it is that we have a game (on Thursday) again. We can learn from it; we play the same team,” Pavel Zacha, who recorded an assist Tuesday to extend his point streak to seven games, told the Devils’ official website.
“We have to find a way to win, and it’s gonna be a hard game again with Buffalo, but that’s what’s good about this season, you have a chance to bounce back right away.”
New Jersey’s MacKenzie Blackwood has stopped 59 of 65 shots he’s faced in the two losses to Buffalo over the last week. It’s possible Aaron Dell could make his second start for the Devils while fellow goaltender Scott Wedgewood has not played since Jan. 30 at Buffalo.
Ullmark could be in net looking to continue his season success against the Devils. Teammate Carter Hutton (2.85 goals-against average), however, has dropped his last three starts, including a 32-save effort versus New Jersey on Jan. 31.
Olofsson has recorded two goals against the Devils this season — both on the power play, where he’s scored all but one goal in 2020-21. Reinhart has four goals and five assists in his last seven contests, with two of each during that stretch versus New Jersey.
–Field Level Media