The power play hasn’t been the source of much success this season for the Buffalo Sabres, being ranked 29th in the NHL in power play efficiency, but they were able to get two goals with the man-advantage on Saturday, Jan. 4 en route to a 2-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils.
After going almost the whole first two periods without any scoring, Matt Moulson finally got the first goal of the game for the Sabres while on the power play with 31 seconds remaining in the second period. Sabres forward Tyler Ennis tried a wrap around attempt to try and stick it in past Devils goalie Corey Schneider on the right side of the net, but Schneider made the save. Schneider however kicked rebound into the slot, where Moulson was able to cash in and chip it in over Schneider’s right shoulder into the top left corner of the net to give the Sabres a 1-0 lead with time winding down in the middle frame.
The Devils were able to tie the game though while on a two-man advantage with a goal by Michael Ryder 7:46 into the third period. Devils defenseman Marek Zidlicky took the puck at the left point and sent a pass to Ryder at the bottom of the left faceoff circle. Ryder then briefly lost control of the puck in the slot before Travis Zajac tipped it back to him. Ryder then wristed a shot the eluded Ryan Miller to even the score at one apiece with 12:14 remaining in regulation.
The Sabres however regained the lead with a power play goal by Matt D’Agostini a little over four minutes later. Sabres forward Linus Omark took the puck along the right half-wall and sent a pass to Steve Ott behind the goal line just inside the trapezoid to the back-right of the New Jersey net. Ott then cut to the front of the net and fired a quick shot on Corey Schneider from in close. Schneider made the initial save, but D’Agostini followed up on the shot with a quick backhanded that beat Schneider over his glove into the top right corner of the net to put the Sabres back in the lead, now 2-1, with 8:11 left to play.
The Sabres were then able to hold on in the final eight minutes to secure their fifth straight home victory, also extending their home point streak to 7 games, going 6-0-1 for 13 out of a possible 14 points. However, they haven’t been nearly as successful on the road as of late, having lost their last 11 outside of the First Niagara Center. They are now 12-26-4 overall on the season and still sit in last place in the entire NHL with 28 total points.
Both teams had 22 shots on goal in the game, while Ryan Miller made 21 saves for the Sabres and Corey Schneider made 20 for the Devils.
Ryan Miller now moves to 11-18-1 on the season with a .927 save percentage and a 2.64 goals against average. He was recently named to the United States Olympic Team on New Year’s Day, having backstopped Team USA to a silver medal at the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver and being named as the tournament’s Best Goaltender.
The Sabres next game comes on Tuesday, Jan. 7, when they will host the Carolina Hurricanes at the First Niagara Center at 7 p.m. Eastern.