BUFFALO – New Devils regime. Same boring style.
Some things never change.
Even with Lou Lamoriello, the architect of those highly successful but oh-so-dull New Jersey teams, now 480 miles away from Newark running the Toronto Maple Leafs, his legacy lives on.
The Devils haven’t changed much under new general manager Ray Shero and coach John Hynes. They still suck the life out of the game, patiently wait for opportunities and then sit on the lead.
That happened Tuesday in the Devils’ 2-0 win over the Sabres before 18,297 fans inside the First Niagara Center.
The Sabres generated only three or four good scoring chances while sprinkling 25 shots on New Jersey goalie Cory Schneider, who posted his second shutout this season.
The game, summed up in two words, was excruciatingly boring.
“I thought we had a few opportunities,” Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said. “We missed the net with most of them, couldn’t capitalize, couldn’t put them in trouble. I think in the second period they kind of took the game to us in terms of where it was played and how it was played. We got caught in some long situations playing D-zone. Eventually they capitalized on the situation.”
West Seneca native Lee Stempniak capitalized 17:27 into the second period. Jiri Tlusty followed 4:12 into the third period.
That was all the Devils needed.
The Sabres had 12 shots in the third period, but the Devils “punted a lot of pucks,” Bylsma said.
“They just got it out into the neutral zone often in that third period,” he said. “We kept coming back at them.”
Captain Brian Gionta, who played seven seasons for the Devils, said the Sabres “fed right into their game plan.”
“They play on top of you, they play hard,” he said. “They’re a quick team. They force you to make mistakes. … We didn’t do enough support of each other.”
He added: “We had some shots from the outside. We never really penetrated and got second and third opportunities. We gave them an easy night that way.”
So much for the Sabres building on their 2-1 comeback win Monday in Detroit, one of their best triumphs this season.
“It seems whenever we get some speed, whenever we get a little break, they get over top of us right away,” Sabres winger Sam Reinhart said. “You got to praise them. You got to try to work around it as much as possible by keeping things simple, putting behind them and trying to get in on the forecheck. They play their systems and stick to it very well.”
With the game scoreless in the second period, the Sabres frittered away two power plays in a row without registering a shot.
“It could be a turning point, and we didn’t get any momentum out of it,” Gionta said.
Sabres goalie Linus Ullmark made 19 saves and lost for the seventh time in eight starts. Center Ryan O’Reilly had his career-long eight-game point streak snapped.