Stephen Gionta Returns As Devils Defeat Sabres Via Shootout


The New Jersey Devils came into tonight’s game in dire need of two points after losing their last 4 and being outs-scored 14-5 in that stretch. Kicking off the first of a promising 6 game home stand, they faced the NHL worst Buffalo Sabres in the, “Battle of the Tanks” and hoped to take advantage of a struggling Michal Neuvirth who came into tonight’s game having lost in his last 10 starts. Unfortunately for both teams it would take overtime to decide this game.

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The Devils came out strong in the first period tonight, out-shooting the Sabres 9 to 5. After some strong offensive chances early, the Devils were able to convert in the final seconds of a power-play when

Patrik Elias

had a sweet defection of a point shot from

Marek Zidlicky

. The Devils finished the period strong, but were unable to crack through again and went into the first intermission up 1-0.

The Devils came out very flat in the second period and gave the Sabres momentum to get back into the game. The Sabres would out-shoot the Devils 12-9 but could not find the back of the net for an equalizer. The Devils once again came out flat in the third period and this time would pay for it. Tyler Ennis was able to beat Cory Schneider just 27 seconds into the period to tie it for Buffalo.

Adam Henrique was unable to capitalize on a late penalty-shot in the third period with just under 4 minutes left and as a result the game would go into overtime. After not converting on great scoring chances from Adam Henrique and Eric Gelinas in overtime the game would have to be decided by a shoot-out. The Devils would go on to end their 4-game losing streak by a score of 2-1 via the shoot-out after two saves from Schneider plus Scott Gomez and Jacob Josefson converting on their attempts.

Putting The Puck On Net

Devils were able to reach 30 shots on goal for the first time since January 19th (10 games). To say it has been a struggle for this team to generate not just scoring chances, but shots would be a major understatement. Over the last 5 games prior to tonight, the Devils averaged 20 shots on goal for while allowing an average of 35 shots on goal against. Putting 31 shots on a struggling Michal Neuvirth and last place Buffalo Sabres team was definitely the game plan coming into the game for New Jersey.

Gio Vs. Gio

Tonight was also the first time in the last 18 games that Devils forward Stephen Gionta was in the line-up since suffering a fracture in his left hand. He was happy he was able to return to the line-up tonight not just because he wanted to help the team, but also because his brother and former New Jersey Devils forward Brian Gionta was playing against them. While both Stephen and Brian didn’t really have notable performances, it’s always special when brothers get to face off against one another.

Where The Devils Stand

Tonight’s victory provides a much-needed two points for the Devils but also makes the future just a little more cloudy as the trade deadline lies just around the corner. With the win tonight, the Devils sit 11 points back of the Boston Bruins who were idle and have a game at hand over New Jersey. It is still highly doubtful that the Devils will be able to make up enough ground to make things interesting, but with rumors swirling surrounding players like Jaromir Jagr, Marek Zidlicky and Michael Ryder; Devils fans will be keeping a close eye on Lou Lamoriello and the team’s next game on Friday vs. the Vancouver Canucks at the Rock.

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