BUFFALO, N.Y. — Taylor Hall scored in his first game after missing three with an injury to his right hand, and the New Jersey Devils snapped a four-game skid with a 3-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday night.
Kyle Palmieri scored an empty-netter and added an assist, and Miles Wood also scored for the Devils. Backup goalie Keith Kinkaid stopped 27 shots in his first game since missing three with a groin injury. He started in place of Cory Schneider, who missed his fourth game since also hurting his groin.
Sabres defenceman Jake McCabe spoiled Kinkaid’s shutout bid by scoring a power-play goal with 5:02 remaining. Buffalo, however, failed to convert on another power-play opportunity when Devils rookie Nico Hischier was penalized for cross-checking with 2:45 remaining.
Kinkaid made a key save during the Sabres’ final man-advantage during a scramble in front with 1:30 left. He reached out with his left arm to turn aside Ryan O’Reilly’s chance from in close.
Hall showed no effects of the hand injury, putting the Devils up 2-0 with 14:29 remaining. Set up alone on the left wing by Jesper Bratt’s no-look backhand pass, Hall stepped into the circle and fired a shot that went in despite goalie Robin Lehner getting a piece of the puck with his glove.
Wood used his speed to open the scoring 5:49 into the second period. Will Butcher sent a pass that hit Wood in stride while streaking up the left wing, catching Sabres defenceman Rasmus Ristolainen flatfooted. Wood made a bee-line toward the net a step ahead of Ristolainen and cut through the crease before backhanding the puck into the open far side.
Wood’s goal ended the Devils’ scoring drought at 116 minutes, 46 seconds, dating to Damon Severson’s goal in the second period of a 3-2 loss at Boston last Tuesday. New Jersey was shut out the following game, a 3-0 loss to Detroit on Thursday.
The Sabres, meanwhile, were coming off consecutive shutouts and allowed their first goal in a span of 199:19 — a little under 27 minutes short of the franchise record — shared by Lehner and backup Chad Johnson.
Lehner, who finished with 25 saves, set a career best with his shutout streak that ended at 145:15, topping his previous best by more than 19 minutes. He had stopped a combined 63 shots in a 5-0 win over Edmonton and a 4-0 victory over Vancouver last week.
NOTES: Before the game, the Sabres held a moment of silence in tribute to USA Hockey executive Jim Johannson, who died unexpectedly on Jan. 21. General manager Jason Botterill, U.S.-born coach Phil Housley and forward Jack Eichel spoke fondly of Johannson in a video broadcast on the scoreboard. Housley referred to Johannson as “the classiest guy you’d ever want to meet.” … Devils coach John Hynes said Schneider is scheduled to begin skating on his own in the next day or so. Schneider missed his second game since hurting his groin in the loss at Boston last Tuesday. … D Mirco Mueller returned after missing 31 games with a broken clavicle. … In discussing the Devils’ skid earlier in the day, Taylor provided an amusing quote that didn’t exactly add up by saying: “Hockey’s a funny game. It goes in 10-game segments. We started off 9-2 and then in our last 11, I think we’re 2-9-2. So what team are we?”
Devils: Host the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday.
Sabres: Continue their five-game homestand against the Florida Panthers on Thursday.
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