Both Martin Brodeur and Ryan Miller were going through some rare struggles as they went into tonight’s game in Buffalo. Each goalie played a strong game, but Brodeur ended up with the win – and his 111th career shutout – as the New Jersey Devils finally notched a “W.” The Devils and Sabres now share matching 1-2-1 records this season.
The Sabres were lucky to be in this one after an abysmal first period. The Devils out-shot the Sabres 15-1 in that initial frame, yet Miller kept New Jersey off the scoreboard until $100 million man Ilya Kovalchuk scored the game-winner 53 seconds into overtime.
You can’t really fault Miller much, as he faced 11 more shots than Brodeur (Miller went 34 for 35 while Brodeur stopped all 24 shots) and at least helped Buffalo earn a point in this one.
If Buffalo fails to win their division or even make the playoffs, they’ll look to this game as a missed opportunity. While New Jersey wasn’t as shorthanded as they were on Monday, they still only dressed 16 out of 18 skaters in this game. To be out-shot that badly by a road team lacking its full array of forwards must be a little embarrassing for the punch-less Sabres.
It hasn’t been pretty, but the Devils are 1-1 in the two games they dealt with a short bench. Who knows how tough this team could be once they dress a full roster?
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It’s going to be interesting to see if Hammond can replicate the success he had last season, when he came out of nowhere to go 20-1-2 with a 1.79 GAA and .941 save percentage, and finish seventh in Vezina voting.