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Gionta and Elias get shootout goals to give Devils a 2-1 win over the Sabres

The Canadian Press
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The Hockey News
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Gionta and Elias get shootout goals to give Devils a 2-1 win over the Sabres

The Canadian Press
By:

NEWARK, N.J. - Patrik Elias did nothing fancy on his game-winning score in the shootout.

Brian Gionta and Elias scored in the shootout to lift the New Jersey Devils to a 2-1 victory over the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday night. "I had it in my mind to just let it go, don't try to make any moves," Elias said.

The first two shooters, Buffalo's Clarke MacArthur and New Jersey's Zach Parise, failed to score. Ales Kotalik beat Martin Brodeur with a backhander before Gionta countered.

That set the stage for the third round where Brodeur made a stick save on Thomas Vanek before Elias won the game by ripping a shot past Ryan Miller.

"I just tried to move him across," Elias said. "It went right under the blocker and right inside the post."

The score by Elias decided a hard-fought game.

"It was a game in which both teams didn't want to give up much," said Devils coach Brent Sutter. "It's always disappointing giving up a goal in the last two or three minutes of a hockey game, but we found a way to win. All points are big, any way you look at it."

Andy Greene scored a first-period power play goal for the Atlantic Division-leading Devils, who won for the 10th time in their last 11 games at the Prudential Center.

The latest victory came at the expense of the skidding Sabres, who are winless in seven straight. It's Buffalo's worst slump since a seven-game losing streak Dec. 4-19, 2003.

"We didn't give up," said Jason Pominville, who scored for the Sabres with 1:47 remaining to force extra time. "We capitalized which was good to see. There is no quit in this team. That's a good sign. We just have to keep working hard."

On the tying goal, Jochen Hecht threw a lead pass to MacArthur who cut to the Devils net. When Brodeur shifted to confront the puck carrier, MacArthur slid the puck across the slot to Pominville for the tap-in goal.

The late goal energized the Sabres in overtime as they had the better chances and almost pulled out the win when Vanek hit the post on the wide-open right side of the net.

Greene opened the scoring at 16:23, barrelling in from the point to the left circle, taking a perfectly timed feed from Elias in the right corner and drilling a shot past Miller. It was his second goal of the season, his other coming in New Jersey's second game of the campaign.

New Jersey dominated the opening period, outshooting Buffalo 11-5. The Sabres were more competitive in the scoreless second period with a 9-5 edge in shots, forcing Brodeur to make a pair of stellar stops to preserve the shutout. He robbed Kotalik, snaring his shot from the slot with a dazzling glove save, before making a diving stop on Henrik Tallinder's point shot.

Notes: Devils LW Jay Pandolfo, out since crashing into the end boards Nov. 28, has resumed skating but no timetable has been set for his return. D Karel Rachunek, who has missed seven games with an ankle injury, has also resumed skating. G Kevin Weekes backed up Brodeur despite pulling a leg muscle late in the Devils 4-3 loss to the Bruins on Saturday. It was Weekes' first start since Dec. 10. ... Miller extended his string of consecutive starts to 15. ... The banged-up Sabres were missing three regulars: C Derek Roy (shoulder), LW Daniel Paille (concussion), RW Maxim Afinogenov (groin). To fill the gap, Buffalo called up winger Patrick Kaleta from Rochester (AHL).

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Gionta and Elias get shootout goals to give Devils a 2-1 win over the Sabres