Madden, Jamie Langenbrunner and Zach Parise scored in a 2:31 span early in the third period to lead the Devils to a 3-2 victory Saturday night, pulling New Jersey to within four points of Buffalo for the best record in the Eastern Conference.
While the Devils celebrated their seventh win in 10 games, Miller fumed in the Sabres’ locker room.
“Insert expletive in front of whatever I say and that’s what I think of the call,” said Miler, who made 34 saves and seemingly was going to make Chris Drury’s first-period goal stand as the winner.
It all fell apart in the third period on a play that Miller felt should have been blown dead.
Miller made a save on a shot from the left point by Colin White and he seemed to have his glove over the puck. Madden continued pushing Miller’s glove and he eventually knocked the puck into the net.
“Nothing against the referees. It has everything to do against that call,” Miller said. “I felt like I had possession and he played me and not the puck.”
Miller refused to say which of the referees—Brad Watson or Eric Furlatt— didn’t blow the whistle.
Neither would Sabres coach Lindy Ruff, but he wasn’t happy either.
“It was clearly covered and obvious he had it in his glove,” Ruff said. “It’s obvious the whistle should have went on the play.”
Madden didn’t seem to care, noting the officials didn’t bother to review a glove save by Miller on Patrik Elias in the first period. Television replays seemed to show that Miller made the catch behind the goal line and pulled it out of the net.
All Madden cared about was his play.
“First it was free, then he gripped his glove on it,” Madden said. “I don’t know if the ref could see it. I gave it one more extra budge and it went into the net. We’re even. The other one was in the net, too.”
Twenty-three seconds after Madden tied the game, New Jersey took the lead. Langenbrunner took a pass from Parise and put the puck toward the net. It hit off the skate of Buffalo defenseman Dmitri Kalinin and went into the net.
“Adding insult to injury it hits my stick and keeps going in,” Miller said.
Parise got his 20th of the season at 4:33. He took a pass from Langenbrunner and ripped a shot past Miller from the top of the left circle.
“For 40 minutes we threw everything at him,” Parise said of Miller. “He played really well in the first two period. Once we got the first one, the bench was pretty excited.”
Martin Brodeur only had to make 15 saves as the Devils handed the Sabres their sixth loss in 11 games (4-6-1).
“We want to try to go forward,” said Brodeur, who was also beaten by Teppo Numminen. “Beating them today is a good confidence booster. We were able to shut them down. It was a great effort.”
Numminen got the Sabres within a goal with 3:58 to play with his first goal of the season, but they coulnd’t get another one. Drury’s first-period goal was his 30th, tying his own single-season mark he set last year.
Sabres C Daniel Briere’s seven-game scoring streak was snapped. … The loss was only the eighth on the road for the Sabres (18-8-2). … Buffalo is 16-2-1 with defenseman Henrik Tallinder in the lineup. … The Devils, who are celebrating their 25th anniversary in New Jersey this season, honored their 1994-95 Stanley Cup championship team before the game. Brodeur, Sergei Brylin and Jim Dowd are still on the current roster. New Jersey was 0-for-7 on the power play. Buffalo was 0-for-3. The crowd of 18,589 was the Devils’ highest at home this season. They have yet to sellout (19,040) in 26 home games.