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Hurt by slow start, Sabres fall 5-3 to New Jersey

The Devils split the weekend series in Buffalo with a 5-3 win against the Sabres on Sunday.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — The Buffalo Sabres split their series with the New Jersey Devils in town this weekend, with the Devils winning the second of the two teams' back-to-back games, 5-3.

Rasmus Ristolainen had a monster game for the Sabres, and was a part of all three Sabres goals, with a goal himself, an assist, and a screen on the power play on Rasmus Dahlin's goal, which tied the game at two in the second period.

But the Devils came out of the gate too quickly for the Sabres scoring 20 seconds into the game with Michael McLeod beating out Carter Hutton off the feed from PK Subban for a 1-0 New Jersey lead.

They bookended the first period with another goal with 16 seconds remaining, with Andreas Johnsson scoring, and the bouncing puck getting behind Hutton, for the Devils to extend their lead to 2-0 before the first intermission.

The Sabres and Devils each failed to convert on a power play opportunity in the first, and New Jersey outshot Buffalo 11-9.

After a stagnant 14 minutes in the second period, and another failed power play opportunity, the Sabres scored twice in 1:12 to tie it up at 2 apiece.

Rasmus Ristolainen fired a shot and Curtis Lazar tipped it in for his first goal of the season, cutting the Devils lead to 2-1 with 5:49 left in the period before the Sabres got back on the power play.

With Ristolainen screening Devils goalie Eric Comrie, Rasmus Dahlin ripped one from the blue line and scored to tie the game.

Credit: AP
Buffalo Sabres defenseman Rasmus Dahlin (26) celebrates his goal during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the New Jersey Devils, Sunday, Jan. 31, 2021, in Buffalo, N.Y. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)

The Devils answered, finishing off back-to-back periods with a goal, this time with less than a second remaining, Miles Wood scored off his own rebound off Carter Hutton, and the Devils led it 3-2 after two periods.

Buffalo outshot New Jersey 15-12 in the second period.

Ristolainen continued to make a big impact, early in the third period, tapping in a goal in front of the net on a diving pass from Victor Olofsson, to tie the game at 3 a piece with 16:07 remaining.

The Devils would go back on top, 4-3, with 9:20 remaining, as McLeod scored his second of the game off the feed from Wood.

The Devils would score on an empty net goal with 7.4 seconds remaining, and split the weekend with a 5-3 win.

The Sabres won Saturday's game, 4-3, on a Jack Eichel shootout goal.

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