Devils Start Strong, Buffalo Sabres Rally Past Devils 5-2 | 3/29/2024

Photo: Jeffrey T. Barnes

The Devils had a strong start when they took on the Buffalo Sabres at the KeyBank Center on Friday, March 29th. Despite their strong start in the first period, taking a 2-0 lead, New Jersey fell short after Tage Thompson sparked the Sabres huge comeback with four goals. J.J. Peterka had also scored for Buffalo in their 5-2 victory. Both Max Willman and Jesper Bratt each scored for the Devils, and they finished their three-game road trip with two straight wins and one loss. They meet with the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Prudential Center on Tuesday before taking a trip to New York to take on the Rangers.

Devils lineup against the Sabres:

Meier – Hischier – Bratt

Hughes – Haula – Holtz

Palat – Nosek – Mercer

Willman – Tierney – Lazar

Bahl – Marino

Hughes – DeSimone

Smith – Nemec



Sabres lineup against the Devils:

Peterka – Thompson – Tuch

Benson – Cozens – Quinn

Greenway – Krebs – Skinner

Girgensons – Jost – Olofsson

Power – Dahlin

Byram – Jokiharju

Bryson – Clifton



   To start the scoring early into the first period, Max Willman deflected Luke Hughes’ point shot that ended up hitting off Rasmus Dahlin before going in through the pads of Devon Levi to give the Devils a 1-0 lead. Jesper Bratt made it a 2-0 lead for New Jersey at 9:29 short side with a beautiful wrist shot after he collected Nico Hischier’s pass, who had been behind the net, in the left circle. This was Bratt’s 24th goal of the season and his 73rd point this season. The Devils outshot the Sabres 11-8 in the opening 20 minutes.

   Only 28 seconds into the second, Tage Thompson cut it to 2-1 to get Buffalo on the board. He put the puck over Jake Allen’s left shoulder after he took it to the left circle from the neutral zone when he had grabbed a loose puck. Thompson struck again later on into the middle frame at 2:25, once again beating Allen over the shoulder off a pass from Alex Tuch in the slot. This was Tuch’s 31st assist of the season to reach 50 points.

   Tage Thompson completed his sixth career hat trick late in the final frame to push the Sabres ahead 3-2 at 4:34. After Rasmus Dahlin’s point shot crept through Jake Allen, Thompson pushed the loose puck over the goal line from the doorstep. J.J. Peterka scored an empty-netter, and Thompson went for his fourth of the game and his 26th goal of the season with only six seconds remaining in regulation.

Jesper Bratt on the Devils’ 5-2 loss: “When you go up two-nothing in the first, we obviously know that they’re going to push, and they did. We had some breakdowns in our game and some small mistakes they capitalized on,” – “I think for the most part of the game, we played pretty solid. We didn’t give up that many chances and there were small plays in the game they capitalized on. Every team is going to have a mistake and we capitalized on two of their mistakes, and they capitalized on some of ours.”

Jake Allen on the loss against the Buffalo Sabres: “We had a really good start – played well and didn’t give them a whole lot in the first. In the second period, we had a few good looks at the start, but after about the 10-12 minute mark, they got some momentum and carried it into the third period – We were right there, we had some opportunities – It was just a game of inches… It’s a tough one to lose right now but the guys battled hard.”


– The Devils outshot the Buffalo Sabres in the first two periods (11-8, 12-11), however, the Sabres outshot the Devils in the third 17-7.

– Jake Allen made a total of 31 saves for New Jersey, and Devon Levi made a total of 28 saves for Buffalo.

– Luke Hughes has been on a roll this season with nine goals, 32 assists, and 41 points. With his assist on Max Willman’s goal, he recorded his 41st point and moved past Scott Niedermayer for the fourth-most points in a season by a rookie defenseman in franchise history.

– Jesper Bratt tied his NHL career high with 73 points, which he had reached previously in both the 2021-22 and 2022-23 seasons.

– Tage Thompson’s sixth career hat trick with the Buffalo Sabres is tied for the seventh-most in team history. He also became the fourth player in Sabres history with multiple four-goal games… he joined Rick Martin (four), Dave Andreychuk (three), and Alexander Mogilny (two). Thompson is the fourth active player with multiple four-goal games, and he joins Alex Ovechkin (four), Anze Kopitar (two), and Nathan MacKinnon (two).

– Alex Tuch has extended his assist and point streaks to seven games; he currently has 10 points (one goal, nine assists)… J.J. Peterka has a four-game goal streak with five goals.

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