ROCHESTER, N.Y. (AP) -- The New Jersey Devils are earning points even while they struggle to hang onto leads.
Maxim Afinogenov's third-period goal gave the Buffalo Sabres a
2-2 tie with the Devils on Wednesday night in the first NHL regular-season game in Rochester.
Jamie Langenbrunner had a goal and assist for the Devils, who
are unbeaten in their last seven (5-0-2) but have scored just seven
goals in four games.
Against the Sabres, New Jersey lost a third-period lead for the third time in four games.
"We're having problems with those third-period leads," said
Langenbrunner, who has four points in his last four games. "It's
alarming. Our style is usually pretty good for holding leads but as
long as we keep working hard and getting points we'll take it."
Playing before a sellout crowd of 11,146, the Sabres stayed
close throughout the game thanks to the goaltending of Martin
Biron. Biron, who allowed seven goals in his last start against
Atlanta last week, made 33 stops.
"The game is so tight now that I knew I would have to come up
with some big save," Biron said.
Skating down the left side, Afinogenov was able to slip the puck
between the post and New Jersey goaltender Martin Brodeur's right
arm with 6:47 left in regulation for his second goal of the season.
"I thought he was going to pass," said Brodeur, who is
unbeaten in his last six (5-0-1). "I should have known better
because he likes to shoot."
Brodeur made 26 saves for the Devils, who have allowed just
seven goals on the road this year in going 4-0-2.
Langenbrunner gave the Devils a 2-1 lead midway through the
third period with a short-handed goal. Patrik Elias went around
Buffalo defenseman Rory Fitzpatrick and took a shot that Biron was
able to save. With the puck laying in front of Biron, Langenbrunner
skated in and jammed home the rebound.
"I just went to the net," Langenbrunner said. "It was a great
play by Patrik."
After a scoreless first period, Chris Taylor gave the Sabres a
1-0 lead when he banged home a rebound off a shot from the right
point by Andy Delmore at 6:15.
It was Delmore's first point of the season after being a healthy
scratch for the past five games.
New Jersey's Jeff Friesen tied the game at 1-all with a
power-play goal with 2:19 left in the second period.
Biron preserved the tie with a sliding save on Scott Niedermayer
while the Devils were short-handed in the overtime period. Buffalo
didn't register a shot on goal during the power play.
"We want to have that killer instinct and we haven't found that
yet," Brodeur said.
The Sabres are trying to attract more fans from the Rochester
area, which is located 70 miles east of Buffalo. The Sabres' AHL
affiliate, the Rochester Americans, play in the downtown arena and
Buffalo also spent a week of their training camp this year in
Sabres' owner Thomas Golisano has ties to the region as his
payroll company is located in suburban Rochester. Before the game,
Golisano expressed his confidence in the Sabres playing one or even
two more games in Rochester next season.
"We'd be remiss not having another one or two games next
year," Golisano said.
The game continued an early season trend for the Devils. Of
their first 14 games, 12 of them have been decided by one goal or
less. ... Brodeur's last loss came on Oct. 25 against Boston. ...
New Jersey is 4-0-3 in their last seven games against Buffalo. ...
This was the fifth neutral-site game for both Buffalo and New
Jersey in each team's history.