Devils vs. Sabres Preview and Predictions
The Buffalo Sabres may be starting to climb out of the doldrums of a prolonged slump and look to extend their point streak to four games when they host the New Jersey Devils on Monday night. The Sabres are 1-0-2 in their last three games after a disappointing 2-1 overtime loss at Toronto on Saturday and own at least a point in four of the last five contests following a frustrating 1-7-1 stretch.
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"I'm really proud of the guys," Buffalo coach Ralph Krueger told reporters Saturday after his team's fifth game in seven days. "This performance on the workload we've had, they sure showed up and played well. First period was outstanding, we let up a little but in the second. We really deserved more than a point here." The Sabres knocked off the Devils 7-2 at home on Oct. 5 during the team's 8-1-1 start as captain Jack Eichel recorded three points, while New Jersey is struggling again after promising stretch in which it gained points in nine of 13 games (7-4-2). The Devils have dropped four of six and went 0-for-8 on the power play in addition to allowing two short-handed goals Saturday in a 4-0 setback against the New York Rangers. "It (stinks)," New Jersey's leading scorer Taylor Hall told reporters. "You just want to see much better from our team, especially in a rivalry game."
TV: 7 p.m. ET, Sportsnet, MSG Plus (New Jersey), MSG (Buffalo)
ABOUT THE DEVILS (9-12-4): The Devils are 29th in the league on the power play (12.9 percent) after going 2-for-23 in the last six games and Hall told reporters: "Our breakouts were a little disorganized. When we did get shots, it felt like the goalie saw it." Hall tops the team with 21 points and Kyle Palmieri (16) is second while sharing the club lead with fellow forward Blake Coleman (plus-5 rating) at nine goals. Rookie center Jack Hughes (four goals, 11 points), the first-overall pick in last June's draft, missed Saturday's contest with a lower-body injury and is questionable for the matchup with Buffalo.
ABOUT THE SABRES (12-10-5): Buffalo has been even worse on the power play of late, going 1-for-37 in the past 14 games, and defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen told reporters: "Maybe we just need to get more simple and shoot the puck more." Eichel, who leads the team by a large amount with 16 goals and 35 points, is on another run while making the scoresheet in nine consecutive contests after recording an assist Saturday. Carter Hutton (6-5-3, .908 save percentage) made 41 saves in a strong performance Saturday, but lost his eighth straight decision, and Linus Ullmark (6-5-2, .911 SP) has won two of his last three games.
1. New Jersey's Mackenzie Blackwood allowed 16 goals in his last four games while fellow G Louis Domingue has stopped 50-of-54 shots since being recalled.
2. Buffalo has also struggled on the penalty kill, sitting 29th out of 31 teams at 74.7 percent entering Sunday.
3. Devils rookie F Jesper Boqvist scored the first two goals of his NHL career in the last three games.
PREDICTION: Sabres 4, Devils 2 Bet Now
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