Final Score: Devils 1, Sabres 0 (OT)

The New Jersey Devils defeated the Buffalo Sabres by a score of 1-0 on an overtime goal by Steve Bernier. The win brings the Devils record back to .500 at 11-11-5, good for fourth place in the Metropolitan Division.

The least you should know: 

- Playing in back-to-back games, Cory Schneider stopped all 15 Sabres shots en-route to his second shutout of the season.

- Steve Bernier’s shot in the final minute of overtime was the only goal scored in the game.

- Ryan Carter left the game with facial lacerations after his fight against Marcus Foglino.

- The win capped off a strong weekend, where the Devils took both games of a back-to-back after defeating Carolina on Friday.

Cory Schneider

Pregame Primer: Game Twenty-Seven – Devils vs Sabres

New Jersey Devils vs Buffalo Sabres – 7:00 pm

Prudential Center – Newark, New Jersey

TV: MSG  Radio: WFAN 660 am, 101.9

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The Devils are back in action against the Buffalo Sabres, following their rousing come-from-behind victory on the road in Carolina. They take on a Buffalo team that is 6-20-1 on the season. The Devils can’t be fooled by their record though. If they come out sluggish, they’ll pay. It will take another strong effort to come away with a win, despite the opponent’s record.

If last night was a turning point of sorts, we may very well find out tonight. The line of Andrei Loktionov, Michael Ryder and Damien Brunner seemed to fit well together. They scored a big goal and got more and more comfortable together as the game went on. If they’re able to build on that for tonight, it’ll give the Devils some of the secondary scoring they’ve been looking for.

Here’s tonight’s lineup:

Dainius Zubrus – Travis Zajac – Jaromir Jagr
Adam Henrique – Patrik Elias – Steve Bernier
Damien Brunner – Andrei Loktionov – Michael Ryder
Ryan Carter – Jacob Josefson – Cam Janssen

Andy Greene – Mark Fayne
Anton Volchenkov – Marek Zidlicky 
Eric Gelinas – Jon Merrill

Goaltender: Cory Schneider

Some thoughts on tonight’s game: 

1. Set the tone early. Against a team like Buffalo, you have to come out and bring the game to them. If you can get an early goal or two, it may end up being an easy skate to the finish. Adversely, if you let the Sabres stick around, or get a goal or two, they can be dangerous. A little confidence can go a long way. The first period was no problem for the Devils last night. They managed one goal on 14 shots. More of the same is needed.

2. More offense out of the back end? The Devils defense has provided a spark in the offensive end as of late. Andy Greene and Marek Zidlicky continue to put up points, but it’s Eric Gelinas and Jon Merrill’s play that has turned heads. The pair of rookie defensemen each had a point against Carolina on Friday. If they can continue to produce good scoring chances, it will alleviate some of the pressure on the forwards to create on their own.

3. Goals for Cory and another start as well. Not only did Cory Schneider have some offensive support last night, he played well enough to earn the start tonight. This is the first time that a Devils goaltender has played both ends of a back-to-back. His 1.89 goals against average and .923 save percentage speak to the kind of season he has had so far. Tonight is another chance for him to make his case to take some of the playing time from Martin Brodeur.

Prediction: Devils 3, Sabres 2 

This is going to be a tougher game than many would like. Coming off of last night’s big third period, the Devils are going to come out slow and they’ll find themselves down 1-0 after one period. After that, the teams will trade goals in the second, but a two goal third period will be just enough for New Jersey to eek out a win.

This Date In Devils History– April 29

Even though the Devils’ 2013 season is over, we can still look back at some great moments in New Jersey’s playoff history.

On April 29…

1994- Claude Lemieux’s power-play goal at 13:49 of the second period proves to be the game-winner in New Jersey’s 2-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres in game 7 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series.

The Devils win the series 4-3, claiming their first playoff series since 1988.

2000- Martin Brodeur stops all 20 shots, and Colin White scores the game’s only goal in the Devils’ 1-0 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs in game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinals at Air Canada Centre. New Jersey evens the best-of-seven series at 1 game apiece.

2006- Patrik Elias records a goal and two assists and Brian Gionta’s shorthanded goal proves as the game-winner as the Devils polish off a sweep of the Rangers with a 4-2 win in game 4 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series.

This Date In Devils History- April 27

Even though the Devils’ playoff chances are finished for 2013, we can still look back at some great moments in New Jersey’s playoff history.

On April 27…

1994- Dave Hannan scores the game’s only goal at 5:43 of the first overtime, lifting the Buffalo Sabres to a 1-0 win over the Devils in game six of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals.

Rick Jeanneret with arguably his most famous call:

 

This Date In Devils History– April 25

Even though the Devils’ playoff chances are finished for 2013, we can still look back at some great moments in New Jersey’s playoff history.

On April 25…

1993- Claude Lemieux scores two goals, and Chris Terreri stopped 30 of 31 shots as New Jersey staved off elimination with a 4-1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Patrick Division semifinals at Brendan Byrne Arena. The Devils lost 5-3 in game five and were eliminated by the Pens.

1994- Lemieux posts a four-point game, and John MacLean pots two goals as New Jersey beats the Buffalo Sabres 5-3 in game five of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals at the Meadowlands.

 

Scoreboard Watching: Need More Help

0419standingsThe Devils helped themselves on Thursday night.

Unfortunately for them and their fans, that’s the only help they got.

New Jersey remains six back of eighth place now with only five games remaining. The Devils’ 3-0 win in Philadelphia kept them alive in the playoff hunt with five games left but did them no other good.

The New York Rangers pummeled Florida, 6-1. The Winnipeg Jets blew a two-goal third-period lead, beating the Carolina Hurricanes.

Meanwhile, the Ottawa Senators and New York Islanders each stayed hot, winning their games.

The Devils are in a  catch-22 tonight too. New Jersey simply must root for the Buffalo Sabres, who will host the Rangers tonight.

New Jersey roots for Buffalo tonight, because a Sabres win will keep the Devils six points behind the No. 8 seed with five games left. New Jersey will have one game in hand on the Rangers with two head-to-head meetings next week.

Meanwhile, the Devils would have two games in hand on Buffalo. Assuming New Jersey wins those two– no small assumption, but the Devils need to win out anyway– it would leap frog the Sabres.

Based on what is happening in Boston, it is unknown whether the Pittsburgh Penguins and Boston Bruins will meet tonight. However, they’re scheduled to go at 7. A Pittsburgh win would seal it the East’s top seed.

The Bruins and Penguins have been postponed due to the manhunt in Boston. That game’s been rescheduled for Tuesday.

Here’s the full slate of Eastern Conference games for tonight:

N.Y. Rangers at Buffalo, 7

Pittsburgh at Boston, 7

Scoreboard Watching: Time To Help Yourself

0418standings

Down six points with just six games left, it’s time for the Devils to start helping themselves.

We can go over the scenarios every day, but without New Jersey wins it doesn’t matter. The Devils are 0-6-4 in their last 10 yet are still mathematically alive.

New Jersey has a game in hand on both the Philadelphia Flyers and Winnipeg Jets– and two in hand on the Buffalo Sabres. The Devils also will meet the eighth-placed New York Rangers twice in their final six games, leaving a slim chance of postseason still alive.

But the Devils have to start winning games.

They can do that tonight in Philadelphia. If New Jersey beats the Flyers, it’ll hop them for 11th.

The Devils then must root for the Carolina Hurricanes and Florida Panthers. The Canes will play in Winnipeg tonight and the, the Panthers trek to Madison Square Garden to meet the Rangers.

Should all that go New Jersey’s way, it’ll trail Winnipeg and New York by four points with a game in hand on the Jets and a crucial meeting with the Rangers Sunday.

That’s about all you can hope for as a Devils fan these days.

Should Winnipeg win, it’ll be rooting for its division-rival Florida, as well as the Ottawa Senators. The Senators will host the Washington Capitals tonight. Washington leads Winnipeg by four points for the Southeast Division lead, and the teams have both played 43 games.

The Senators still can catch the fifth-placed Toronto Maple Leafs, but they can still also be caught by the seventh-placed New York Islanders. The Isles and Leafs will meet tonight in Toronto.

A Toronto win, coupled with a Montreal Canadiens loss to Tampa Bay, will leave the Leafs two back of their divisional rival with just four games left.

The 10th-placed Sabres helped their cause last night with an enormous shootout win over the Boston Bruins. Buffalo is idle tonight but will root for Florida and Carolina.

The full slate of Eastern Conference games with playoff implications. As always, all times are eastern and p.m.

N.Y. Islanders at Toronto, 7

Florida at N.Y. Rangers, 7

Tampa Bay at Montreal, 7

Washington at Ottawa, 7:30

DEVILS at Philadelphia, 7:30

Carolina at Winnipeg, 8

Scoreboard Watching: Help … Please!

NHL Standings 4-13-13

Yesterday, we talked about the Devils had to stop worrying about what other teams were doing and just win a game. Well, that didn’t happen. They didn’t even get an overtime point and now likely have to go 6-1 the rest of the way to make the playoffs, which includes a two-game sweep of the Rangers in the final week.

So tonight, the Devils have no choice but to sit back and root for the other teams. The Senators are off tonight, but they’re completely out of reach. The Islanders are not “untouchable” but they’re a pretty difficult team to catch.

That leaves the Rangers and Jets as the two teams the Devils need to keep both eyes on. Well, no Jets hockey tonight, which means there’s only one game Devils fans should be focused on tonight — Rangers-Islanders. The Devils NEED the Isles to win that game in regulation. Yes, if the Rangers win the Devils would be closer (ideally speaking) to catching the Islanders, but as we said above — it ain’t happening. The Rangers are the target. So, for tonight only, Devils fans need to pull on their orange and blue and hope Evgeni Nabokov continues taking whatever “supplements” he’s currently cycling.

The full slate of games today/tonight that affect the Devils’ playoff picture:

  • Flyers at Sabres, 3 p.m. ET
  • Rangers at Islanders, 7 p.m. ET
  • Lightning at Capitals, 7 p.m. ET

Scoreboard Watching: Crazy 8s

0411standingsIt’s getting late fast for the Devils.

New Jersey’s 5-4 loss to Boston Wednesday leaves it in dire straits. The Devils trail the three-way tie for sixth by four points with only eight games left.

The only solace New Jersey can take is it will have destiny in its own hands. The Devils will meet Ottawa Friday in a crucial affair at Prudential Center. Three of New Jersey’s final eight will be against the Rangers and Sens.

The Devils didn’t get much help from James Reimer and the Maple Leafs on Wednesday. Toronto went to MSG and lost 3-2 in a shootout to the Rangers.

To be fair, the Devils are 0-4-4 in their last eight. Help doesn’t mean much if they don’t win games.

Still, with their playoff hopes fading fast, the Devils will be scoreboard watching tonight. They’ll hope the team that beat them Wednesday, the Boston Bruins, will give them some aid as they host the New York Islanders.

The Devils will also be rooting for Florida, as the Panthers trek to Winnipeg to meet the Jets. New Jersey trails Winnipeg by one point for ninth place.

Crazy as it sounds, the Flyers can also help out New Jersey tonight. Philadelphia hosts Ottawa in a game both teams need. The Flyers trail the Rangers by seven. An Ottawa loss, combined with and an Islanders win, will drop the Sens to eighth place.

The Buffalo Sabres, six points behind the Rangers, Sens and Isles, will host the Montreal Canadiens tonight. Buffalo desperately needs points.

Meanwhile, Montreal trails Boston by one point for the Northeast Division lead.

Have you got all that? Good.

Meanwhile, the Jets and Washington Capials are still angling for the Southeast Division title. While Winnipeg is hosting Florida, the Capitals will be hosting the Carolina Hurricanes. The Jets trail the Caps by two points, but Winnipeg has played one more game than Washington.

Here is the full slate of games for Thursday in the Eastern Conference:

N.Y. Islanders at Boston, 7

Ottawa at Philadelphia, 7

Carolina at Washington, 7

Montreal at Buffalo, 7:30

Pittsburgh at Tampa Bay, 7:30

Florida at Winnipeg, 8

 

Scoreboard Watching: Fighting For Playoff Life

0410standingsThe Devils are down to nine games to make a postseason run.

New Jersey trails the eighth-placed Rangers by just two points with 17 days left. The Devils are four points behind the two-way tie for sixth between Ottawa and the Islanders.

The Isles and Senators seem to be going in opposite directions. Ottawa’s lost five straight– including a 3-2 loss in Tampa Bay on Tuesday. Meanwhile, the Islanders are 7-2-1 in their last 10 and knocked off Philadelphia 4-1 on Tuesday in Uniondale, N.Y.

The Flyers, still clinging to life, are five points back of the Rangers. Right there with Philadelphia are the Buffalo Sabres. Buffalo lost 4-1 Tuesday in Winnipeg and has played one more game than the Devils, Rangers and Flyers, leaving it in more dire straits.

Meanwhile, the Jets are still in contention for the Southeast Division crown– assuming Washington ever loses again. The Capitals have won five straight and are 8-1-1 in their last 10. Washington leads Winnipeg by four points and have played one fewer game than Winnipeg.

The Rangers, still holding that No. 8 seed, will try to hold that spot when they close a home-and-home series with the Maple Leafs Wednesday at Madison Square Garden. Toronto beat New York 4-3 on Monday at Air Canada Centre.

Across the Hudson River in Newark, the Devils will try to snap their seven-game losing streak against the Boston Bruins when they meet at Prudential Center. With a Maple Leafs win and a Rangers loss, the Devils and Rangers will share the eighth-playoff spot with eight games left.

The Rangers will have the tiebreaker, having won three more regulation and overtime games than the New Jersey. The Devils can improve on that with a Rangers loss and by beating Boston in 60 or 65 minutes.

The rest of the East will watch those two games closely, as they’re the only two conference games on tonight’s docket. A Toronto win, coupled with a Boston loss, will leave the Leafs just four points behind Boston for the east’s No. 4 seed.

Here’s a simpler view of tonight’s schedule:

Toronto at N.Y. Rangers, 7

Boston at DEVILS, 7:30