The last time the NJ Devils traveled up state to Buffalo they lost out by five goals. So to mark the start of the month of December, all eyes were on the Devils to see if they could play out a tighter match this time around. The Sabres had a much different idea in mind.
The match was over before it had time to get started with the Sabres going up five goals in the first period. Their dominance over the Devils was quickly confirmed and it was just a matter of how many after the first goal went in with only three minutes played.
Sabres coach Ralph Krueger saw the offensive onslaught as a build-up of hard work from their previous games. Unlucky for the Devils that it was during their match-up that the Sabres finally found their scoring groove.
Krueger stated, “the last six games before this really had been games of good habits, and a lot of the offense that we were starting to create hadn’t really functioned that well with goals,” He then went on to say, “the fruit of the labor from the week before almost seemed to pay off. We were hot.”
Hot they most certainly were with that five-goal blast before the first period was over. Jack Eichel opened the scoring with his 17th of the season on the 2:46 mark, followed by a brace from Conor Sheary after 19 games without finding the net. One a piece from Jeff Skinner and Rasmus Asplund completed the first period rout.
The Sabres were in complete control without a response from the Devils. Asplund later mentioned that the Sabres had planned to come out hard and take the match to the Devils, by saying “we scored a couple goals there, we just stayed with the game plan and kept going. Five in a period, it just shows what character we have.”
Second period goals from Victor Olofsson and Henri Jokiharju completed the rout. Devils shot stopper Domingue was pulled after his shocking first period and Mackenzie Blackwood came on in his place, who made some amends with a total of 15 saves.
The damage was already done. Even a consolation goal from NJ’s Nico Hischier eight minutes into the 2nd wasn’t enough to lift their spirits. NJ forward Taylor Ward summed their evening up by saying, “It’s a tough pill to swallow…we’ve got to step it up.”
The Devils can only get better if this performance is anything to go by. They’ll be looking for big improvements across all areas as they welcome the Vegas Golden Knights next Tuesday. The Buffalo Sabres, on the other hand, will be on the hunt for more goals as they travel to the West Coast to take on Calgary.
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