Sabres beat slumping Devils 4-1 as Ullmark makes 41 saves

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Victor Olofsson scored his sixth power-play goal, Linus Ullmark was magnificent in making 41 saves and the Buffalo Sabres beat the slumping New Jersey Devils 4-1 on Tuesday night.

Rasmus Asplund and Dylan Cozens broke the game open early in the third period with goals in a 1:34 span that send the Devils to their third straight loss. Cody Eakin scored an empty-net goal with less than a second to play.

The win was the Sabres’ second over the Devils in three days and only their second in the last seven games (2-5-0). They lost to the Islanders on Monday night.

Sabres coach Ralph Krueger said the game had a playoff feeling with the teams so close in the standings.

“Everybody was really edgy and focused,” Krueger said. “We’re just happy the team responded to that kind of pressure we put on them today, and Linus led the way. He looked like a real leader toady and a top-rate NHL goalie in a game that really mattered to us.”

Mackenzie Blackwood had 33 saves for New Jersey, which prevented Ullmark from getting his first shutout since 2019 when Nikita Gusev scored with 28 seconds to play.

“I think the third period we came out well, they got the goal and it took a little wind out of our sails,” Devils coach Lindy Ruff said. “The first period, though, we had five or six good opportunities. Their goalie was really good, really played well. We need a little more traffic.”

Ullmark, making his fourth straight start, withstood an early surge by New Jersey and got some help from the post on a point shot by P.K. Subban in the third period. He made two great stops in the final minute before giving up a goal.

The Sabres came into the game with the NHL’s third best power play, and it was clicking in the second period. Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhard hit goalpost on the first extra-man advantage, and Oloffson scored his seventh goal of the season on the second, which included another post by Eichel.

“We were just kind of laughing, honestly” Olofsson said. “Two posts and we had some more really good chances so we knew it was going to come if we kept moving the puck like that. Eventually, it did.”

Asplund, who was elevated to the roster earlier in the day with Tobias Reider’s injury, batted a deflected puck out of the air to push the margin to 2-0 at 5:16 of the third period. It was his first goal of the season and second of his 32-game career.

Cozens scored in close off a great feed from former Devil Taylor Hall.

SKINNER OUT

Sabres F Jeff Skinner, who had not scored in 14 games, was a healthy scratch for the second straight game. Krueger wants the one-time 40-goal scorer to watch a couple of games. He said the move was not disciplinary.

BANGED UP D

Earlier in the day, the Sabres announced William Borgen will miss up to two months with a broken right forearm. He was hurt in the first period against the Devils on Saturday and finished the game. Buffalo also lost fellow defenseman Jake McCabe for the season with a major knee injury in the game.

Buffalo was already without top defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen, who remains out indefinitely because of COVID-19.

Jacob Bryson was called up from the taxi squad and made his NHL debut, playing on defense with Colin Miller. He hit a goalpost with a first-period shot.

UP NEXT

The teams face off again on Thursday, this time in Buffalo. It will be their third game since Saturday.

“I think just stick with it,” New Jersey’s Nico Hischier said of the recent slide. “Try not to get too low and go to Buffalo and win the next game.”

___

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