A three-game winning streak for the New Jersey Devils ended in a 3-2 loss at the against the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday afternoon.
The biggest news for the Devils going into this game revolved around the return of Nico Hischier. After missing the first 11 games of the season with a leg injury, the 22-year-old forward was set to make his debut against the Sabres. It was also an unforgettable day for Hischier off the ice, as he was named as the 12th captain in the history of the Devils organization.
Buffalo looked hungry and motivated in the first period, looking to end their four-game losing streak. With 14:40 left in the opening period, veteran center Eric Staal won a faceoff in the offensive zone, and the team took advantage of it. The puck found its way to defensemen Colin Miller, and he fired a shot through traffic to give the Sabers the early lead. Buffalo created a few more goal-scoring opportunities, but goalkeeper Mackenzie Blackwood made some crucial saves to keep the score at 1-0 going into the first intermission.
The second period was more of the same for the Devils, as they had to withstand a lot of pressure from the Sabers attack. Buffalo got two goals from 25-year-old center Sam Reinhart, and it seemed as if the Devils had no chance to overcome a three goal deficit in the final period.
At the beginning of the third period, the Devils started to show some life in the attacking zone. With 19:28 left in the game, Jack Hughes received the puck and glided past multiple Sabers before finding Kyle Palmieri. The forward slipped past a defender, and he fired a shot at the net. Palmieri didn’t get the cleanest of contact, but puck redirected off the post as the horn sounded. The Devils found the back of the net in the first minute of the third period, and they knew the momentum was in their favor.
New Jersey continued to put pressure on the Sabres defense, but goalie Linus Ullmark made some fantastic saves to keep the deficit at two. With 4:44 left in the period, the Devils went on the power play following a slashing penalty from Jack Eichel.
88 seconds later, P.K Subban fired a slapshot past Ullmark to give the team a chance in the dire moments of the game. New Jersey created some good chances in the final three minutes, but they were unable to send the game to overtime.
The team will be back in action against the Washington Capitals Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m. EST.