Sun, 04 Jun 2023

Sabres edge Devils to stay on fringe of playoff contention

Field Level Media
25 Mar 2023, 12:19 GMT+10

Alex Tuch scored twice in the second period Friday night for the host Buffalo Sabres, who kept alive their flickering playoff hopes by withstanding a third-period rally by Jack Hughes and the New Jersey Devils in a 5-4 victory.

Dylan Cozens, Tage Thompson and Jack Quinn scored in the first for the Sabres (34-31-6, 74 points), who snapped a four-game losing streak and won for just the third time in the last 13 games (3-8-2).

Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen made 27 saves as Buffalo moved within six points of the idle Pittsburgh Penguins for the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference, with three teams between them.

Yegor Sharangovich and Kevin Bahl scored in the first and Hughes twice in the third for the Devils (45-19-8, 98 points), who lost for the fifth time in six games (1-3-2) and missed a chance to clinch their first playoff berth since 2018.

Goalie Akira Schmid was chased after allowing three goals on the first seven shots he faced for New Jersey, which also missed an opportunity to tie the idle Carolina Hurricanes atop the Metropolitan Division. Vitek Vanecek recorded 17 saves in relief.

Cozens scored 6:29 into the first and Thompson beat Schmid on the breakaway just 39 seconds later. Sharangovich cut the gap in half at the 9:07 mark, before Quinn extended the lead to 3-1 by firing a shot over Schmid's glove from point-blank range.

Bahl pulled the Devils within a goal again with 1:14 remaining when his shot from the edge of the left faceoff circle glanced off Sabres defenseman Ilya Lyubushkin and fluttered past Luukkonen.

Tuch scored back-to-back goals in a span of just under 12 minutes in the second, when his shot from the right faceoff circle sailed beyond Schmid's glove at 4:50. He tallied on the power play with 4:22 left.

Hughes began the Devils' comeback bid in earnest 5:20 into the third when his shot from the middle of the right faceoff circle sailed under Luukkonen's stick arm. The New Jersey center cut the deficit to one goal again by scoring on the power play with 10:27 left in the game.

--Field Level Media

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