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Devils nip Sabres 1-0 in overtime

The SportsXchange

NEWARK, N.J. -- It looked for all intents and purposes that Saturday night's game between the New Jersey Devils and Buffalo Sabres would never end.

It was scoreless through three periods and entering the final minute of overtime, and there were enough dangerous chances by both teams to count on one hand. A shootout would theoretically decide the contest after 65 minutes, but if neither team would score, how would it end?

Devils right winger Steve Bernier solved the problem with 40.2 seconds remaining in overtime, whipping a wrist shot past Sabres goaltender Jhonas Enroth to give his team a 1-0 victory at Prudential Center.

If it really seemed like this game would never end, don't feel bad -- Bernier felt the same way.

"For sure," said Bernier, whose second goal of the season brought the Devils (11-11-5) back to .500. "That's the beauty of playing hockey. It doesn't look like a chance, but you don't need much time to score goals. That's what's fun about it."

Bernier's goal was the result of a 2-on-2 rush with defenseman Andy Greene. Bernier was able to back off Sabres defenseman Mark Pysyk -- perhaps a bit too far -- and snap a wrist shot that eluded the catching glove of Enroth.

Sabres coach Ted Nolan was happy his team was able to secure a point after earning its sixth victory of the season Friday night, but conceded his defenseman could have played that shot better.

"Yeah, he backed in a little too much," Nolan said. "That's what we're doing here. It's a learning curve. Mark, I thought, had a heck of a game here tonight. It's just, in this league, you make those one mistakes, guys are going to take advantage of that."

It was all Devils goaltender Cory Schneider would need. He made 15 saves while putting forth a commendable effort to not lose consciousness during the contest. The Sabres' best chance was the result of Schneider's own gaffe, as he misplayed the puck behind the net and had to make a sprawling save on Sabres forward Matt Moulson in the second period.

It was Schneider's second shutout of the season and second victory in as many days. Earlier this week, he voiced some displeasure with his lack of playing time behind future Hall of Famer Martin Brodeur, but has responded with two consecutive solid outings.

"It doesn't matter if it's 0-0 or 2-2. If it's a tie game late in the game, you got to be the one that makes that extra save and gives your team a chance," Schneider said. "When you're giving up under 20 shots a night, sometimes one goal is enough."

Most Devils games have followed this same pattern -- few chances, fewer goals and one mistake can decide the outcome of the game. They received a reprieve from that Friday during their 5-2 road win against the Carolina Hurricanes, but close games are something the Devils are getting used to facing.

"I was joking around with someone last night, saying it felt good to finally not have a stressful last five minutes," Greene said. "That's the way it is. All our games are pretty tight. You have to learn to win those games if you're going to be a successful team throughout the year. We should have plenty of practice at that."

The Sabres fell to a league-worst 6-20-2, but Enroth bounced back in his first start since Nov. 16, when he allowed four goals on 22 shots in a 4-2 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs. On Saturday, Enroth was the biggest reason the Sabres escaped with a consolation point.

Nolan wasn't happy with Enroth's performance following that loss in Toronto, but was pleased after Saturday's game.

"Everybody has off nights," Nolan said. "I didn't question his ability. It's just we need better. We need better from everybody. Tonight, he certainly gave us a great performance. It was great to see."

NOTES: RW Patrick Kaleta, who had been playing with the Buffalo Sabres' AHL affiliate in Rochester, N.Y., reportedly tore his ACL and will miss the rest of the season. Kaleta played five games with the Sabres this season before he was suspended 10 games by the NHL for a hit to the head of Columbus Blue Jackets D Jack Johnson. ... 19-year-old Sabres C Mikhail Grigorenko was a healthy scratch for the second straight game. ... Despite playing Friday night, Devils G Cory Schneider was back in net against the Sabres. Coach Pete DeBoer said G Martin Brodeur will start Monday in Montreal against the Canadiens. ... Devils C Ryan Carter (facial lacerations) left the game after a first-period fight with Sabres LW Marcus Foligno and did not return.
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