Saturday, May 21

Devils eye fourth consecutive win against reeling Sabers

The New Jersey Devils have not experienced any negative effects on the ice from their recent COVID-19 layoff.

However, the same cannot be said for the Buffalo Sabers.

The Devils can score a fourth straight win by handing the visiting Sabers their fifth straight loss on Saturday afternoon in Newark, New Jersey.

On January 30, Buffalo beat New Jersey 4-3 in a shootout to cap a 3-0-2 streak. However, the Devils rallied the next day for a 5-3 win over the Sabers, who were reportedly not happy that the back-to-back final was being played even upon learning that Kyle Palmieri New Jersey was added to the NHL. List of COVID-19 protocols before the game after playing the day before.

After the Jan. 31 contest, both clubs were forced to halt team activities as more New Jersey and Buffalo players were added to the protocol.

The Sabers did not return to game action until Monday this week, when they fell 3-1 to the New York Islanders. In fact, the Sabers have been outscored 9-2 and lost their first three games after their return.

“It’s a tough situation we’re in right now,” Buffalo coach Ralph Krueger said after Thursday’s 3-1 loss in Washington. “This is now psychology. This is now perseverance and character, that we have to stick with it.”

“It’s certainly a level of confidence that you need to have here to continue a game where you are not rewarded for it.”

New Jersey, however, returning Tuesday, beat the New York Rangers 5-2 and made all of its scoring in the second period of Thursday’s 3-2 win at Boston. The Devils won four games in a row for the last time in October 2018.

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“We need to keep playing the game the right way,” Devils coach Lindy Ruff said. “We talk a lot about how we should play. To be really good at how we want to play. We don’t spend a lot of time on how the opponent plays.

“We wanted to emphasize what we do well.”

Although Palmieri could indirectly be public enemy number one right now for the Sabers, the Devils are hoping it will be the start of a productive streak after the veteran recorded his first two goals of the season on Thursday. Meanwhile, his teammate and Buffalo native Miles Wood is expecting another big effort after he recorded two goals with an assist against the Sabers on Jan. 31.

Mackenzie Blackwood of New Jersey is 4-0-1 with an average of 1.94 goals against and a .945 save percentage this season. Backup Scott Wedgewood has a 2.80 GAA win in five starts and stopped 28 of 31 shots at Buffalo on Jan. 30.

Buffalo’s Linus Ullmark has 2.69 GAA this season, but would try to avoid a third straight loss if he makes it to the net on Saturday. Carter Hutton, meanwhile, is 2.85 GAA and lost four of his five starts in 2020-21.

After his seven-point streak ended in Tuesday’s 3-0 loss to the Islanders, Buffalo’s Victor Olofsson recorded his team-leading sixth goal on Thursday. He is responsible for the Sabers’ two goals since the COVID-19 firing, and he has four with three assists in four career games against New Jersey.

–Field level media

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