NEWARK, N.J. -- Patrik Elias
scored the game-tying goal with just 1:06 remaining in regulation and added the decisive goal in the shootout, leading the New Jersey Devils
to a 3-2 victory over the Buffalo Sabres
Thursday night at the Prudential Center.
The victory enabled the Devils (11-8-5) to snap a six-game losing streak, coming from a two-goal deficit to do so. The Sabres (9-13-3) fell for the third straight game.
When it looked as if the Devils were headed to another defeat, Elias alertly knocked in a shot from David Clarkson for his seventh goal of the season and the 368th of his career.
On the play, Jhonas Enroth
, getting the rare start instead of Ryan Miller
, left after allowing the game-tying goal to Elias. Enroth suffered an apparent knee injury trying to make the save and was carried off the ice, giving way to Miller. Enroth, looking for his first win since November of 2011, made 25 saves. Miller made four saves in the final minute and the overtime.
After Clarkson beat Miller in the shootout, Elias ended the contest with a solid fake on Miller and putting it past the strewn goalie, ending the losing streak. Thomas Vanek
scored a goal in the first period and Brian Flynn added his first career NHL goal in the third period for the Sabres. Adam Henrique
scored a power-play goal late in the third period for the Devils that sliced the Buffalo lead to 2-1 with 6:30 remaining. Johan Hedberg
made 22 saves in goal for the Devils, including a huge stop on Vanek in front with just 29 seconds left in the overtime, sending the game to the shootout. Hedberg also made two saves in the shootout to secure the win and end the drought.
Sabres right wing Jason Pominville fired a wrist shot that bounced off the right goalpost with just 51 seconds remaining.
The Devils had the better of the scoring chances in the opening period, including one sequence where Henrique and Elias both missed open shots, with Elias' attempt a wide-open wrist shot that Enroth somehow saved, leaving the veteran to shake his head in dismay, wondering how he missed it.
The Devils played their seventh straight game without legend Martin Brodeur in goal, leaving the goaltending duties to Hedberg, who had struggled, allowing 28 goals in the six games that he's played in place of Brodeur. The sure-fire Hall of Famer Brodeur is on the injured list with a bad back and there's no timetable for his return.
The two teams played to a scoreless first period.
The Sabres broke the scoreless deadlock in the second period, taking advantage of a Devils penalty.
Defenseman Anton Volchenkov, who was a healthy scratch for the prior four games, took a bad tripping penalty and the Sabres jumped on the chance, when Vanek scored his team-high 13th goal of the season off a perfect setup from Tyler Ennis with 12 minutes remaining in the period.
The Sabres got their second goal on pure hustle from Flynn, who kept the play alive by diving in front of the goal, then was alert enough to knock home a rebound shot for his first career NHL goal with 10:04 remaining in the third period and a 2-0 Buffalo lead.
The Devils then sliced the lead to 2-1 on power-play goal with 6:30 left. With Christian Ehrhoff in the penalty box for holding, the Devils went hard to the goal and Henrique knocked in a rebound of a Ilya Kovalchuk shot for his seventh goal of the season.
NOTES: The Devils made a series of transactions prior to the game. They first claimed right wing Tom Kotsopoulos off waivers from the Pittsburgh Penguins. The 34-year-old Kotsopoulos, a 10-year NHL veteran, did not see action with the Penguins this season, but was put right into action with the Devils. Kotsopoulous is a physical forward who has scored 60 goals in his career, but has compiled 705 penalty minutes. He had four goals and eight assists in 81 games last season with Calgary. ... The Devils also shipped rookie goalie Keith Kinkaid back to Albany and recalled fellow rookie Jeff Frazee the same club. Kinkaid made his NHL debut Tuesday night in the loss to Tampa Bay, stopping 12 of 13 shots. The 25-year-old Frazee, the Devils' second round pick in 2005, has never played in the NHL. ... Forward Cam Janssen, who got his first action of the season in the loss to Tampa Bay Tuesday night and drew a penalty for a vicious elbow, was sent back to Albany. ... Defenseman Peter Harrold, who had been a healthy scratch in all but one game this season, dressed and played against the Sabres. "We just wanted to get some fresh legs out there," said Devils coach Peter DeBoer. ... Defenseman Henrik Tallinder was scratched by the Devils due to a lower body injury. ... The Sabres, who entered the game having won three of seven games under interim head coach Ron Rolston, are in the midst of a four-game road streak, their longest of the compressed 48-game schedule.
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