The Buffalo Sabres struck first on Tuesday night, and this time they were able to hold the lead throughout in a 4-1 win over the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.
For once, a lot of things went right for Buffalo on Tuesday. With a strong night at 5-on-5, on the power play, as well as in net, Buffalo put together a solid game both on the ice and on the score sheet.
Let's take a look at three observations from the game:
1.) Ullmark strong in his second start in as many nights
Facing a back-to-back situation, Sabres head coach Ralph Krueger decided to go back to goaltender Linus Ullmark. Historically, he's typically gone with a different goaltender on the second night of a back-to-back.
Ullmark did not disappoint on Tuesday night.
The Devils controlled play for the majority of the period, but Ullmark stopped all 15 shots faced in the first period to set the tone for the game. The Devils only took six shots in the second period, but Ullmark, again, made a huge stop on a breakaway from Devils forward Nico Hischier.
Ullmark had his work cut out for him late in the third period. After Sabres forwards Rasmus Asplund and Dylan Cozens scored, the Devils applied more pressure with 21 shots on goal. Ullmark stopped 20 of those, allowing a goal to Devils forward Nikita Gusev with just 28 seconds to go after a flurry of shots from New Jersey on the power play. Ullmark sprawled back and forth to make every effort to keep the puck out of the net for the shutout.
Ullmark ended up with 41 stops in the win over the Devils.
2.) Power play stays red-hot
Buffalo received the first power play of the game on Tuesday night, and after hitting the post twice on the same opportunity, the Sabres had to be wondering if anything was going to go their way.
Luckily, Sabres forward Victor Olofsson knows a thing or two about scoring with a man advantage.
Olofsson scored his sixth power play goal of the season on Tuesday night. Of Olofsson's seven goals on the season, all of them have come up a man, with his one non-power play goal coming 6-on-5 with the goalie pulled against the Washington Capitals in the first game of the season.
Buffalo is tied for first in the league in power play percentage, converting on 33.3% of their chances. The power play is a large reason why Buffalo has been able to remain competitive in games this season, as the Sabres have struggled with their 5-on-5 play all season.
3.) Multiple 5-on-5 contributions help lead Sabres past Devils
Asplund was called up from the Sabres' taxi squad prior to Tuesday night's game against the Devils. Asplund subbed in for injured forward Tobias Rieder, while Jeff Skinner was, once again, a healthy scratch for Krueger.
Asplund's goal gave Krueger some slight vindication for that decision.
While Asplund had a strong game on a line with Cody Eakin and Kyle Okposo, his goal came on a line change with the Olofsson, Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart line coming off.
Eichel generated a good chance in the zone before losing the puck, which squirted up to the high slot between the circles. Reinhart was in the right place at the right time, firing a shot through tons of bodies before hitting Asplund and deflecting in the air. Asplund waited and batted the puck out of the air to put it in the net.
The Sabres wouldn't have to wait long for more 5-on-5 success.
Just 1:24 after the Asplund goal, rookie forward Dylan Cozens found the back of the net as well. Devils goaltender MacKenzie Blackwood went behind the net to clear the puck, but Sabres forward Eric Staal kept the puck in the zone and put it back behind the net. Forward Taylor Hall threw a no-look pass to Cozens, who was right on the doorstep for the tap-in.
The Sabres have scored two-plus goals at 5-on-5 just six times in 16 games this season. Prior to their game against the Devils over the weekend, the last time the Sabres scored more than one goal at 5-on-5 was on Jan. 30 against New Jersey.
Buffalo has won two of their past three games, and they look to continue their good fortune against the Devils this Thursday back at KeyBank Center to begin a three-game homestand.
Opening faceoff for Sabres and Devils on Thursday night is set for 7 p.m. EST. The Paul Williams Beltz Pregame Show with Schopp and the Bulldog gets started at 6 p.m. EST on the radio flagship of the Sabres - WGR Sports Radio 550.