Skinner scores 29th, Sabres get 5 in 2nd to beat Devils 5-1
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — With star forward Jack Eichel missing his third straight game due to injury, the Buffalo Sabres got the secondary scoring they were searching for.
Jeff Skinner provided his 29th goal of the season and the Sabres scored five times in the second period on their way to a 5-1 win over the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday night.
C.J. Smith, Casey Mittelstadt, Jake McCabe and Lawrence Pilut also scored for Buffalo, which improved to 23-14-6. Carter Hutton made 20 saves.
Fourteen different Sabres got on the scoresheet with a goal or an assist, a welcome turn of events. Buffalo has struggled to find secondary scoring this season apart from Eichel and Skinner.
“I really liked the way our group played,” coach Phil Housley said. “It was a total team effort.”
Blake Coleman opened the scoring for New Jersey before the Devils fell apart in the second period. Keith Kinkaid made 28 saves.
“We could talk about nine different ways where we weren’t good enough in any facet of the game,” coach John Hynes said. “We all know what it is and it’s not good enough and we’ve got to fix it.”
The Sabres stormed ahead in the second, starting with two goals on their first two shots of the period.
The first came at 1:39 by Skinner. Buffalo’s leading scorer raced down the left wing around defenseman Ben Lovejoy and fired a high shot to the far corner.
Minutes later, Smith raced down the right side of the ice and scored his first career goal with a similar strike at 4:14. Kinkaid got a piece of Smith’s shot but it had just enough to trickle over the goal line before defenseman Sami Vatanen attempted to clear the puck away.
“He attacked the game,” Housley said of Smith. “I just liked how he was poised, he was composed. He found a way to get that one by Kinkaid and it was a big goal.”
Mittelstadt made it 3-1 with 9:18 remaining in the second, snapping a 10-game goal drought. After splitting the Devils defense, the 20-year-old’s backhand shot was stopped but his follow-up went in for his sixth goal of the season.
McCabe made it 4-1 on a short-handed goal with four minutes left in the period. The defenseman finished a 2-on-1 rush after a patient pass from Evan Rodrigues.
Pilut capped the second-period flurry with his first career goal with 2:15 to go on a long shot through traffic.
“We had all four lines contributing,” Rodrigues said. “It could’ve been even more in the second. That’s what happens when you’re rolling shifts over in the offensive zone and tiring teams out. That’s when you start to get rewarded. I thought in past games we’ve been getting our chances, but we haven’t had the sustained pressure like we had today.”
Coleman opened the scoring on a deflection 1:28 into the game for his 13th goal. But still, New Jersey came up well short after winning five of its previous eight games.
“We’ve got to figure this out,” captain Andy Greene said. “It’s been way too long. It’s on us in here to stick together and play for each other and play hard for each other. That’s the best thing we can do and go from there. We get a little bit of traction here and there and then all of a sudden we have a game like today.”
Buffalo outshot New Jersey 33-21 overall.
NOTES: Eichel sat out again with an upper-body injury. He returned to practice Monday. ... LW Scott Wilson was placed on waivers by the Sabres. Wilson has 14 points (six goals, eight assists) this season. ... D Mirco Mueller, G Mackenzie Blackwood and D Egor Yakolev were scratched by the Devils. ... D Nathan Beaulieu, LW Remi Elie and D Matt Hunwick were scratched by the Sabres.
Devils: Home against Toronto on Thursday.
Sabres: At Carolina on Friday.