Fresh off their first loss of the season, the Buffalo Sabres look to bounce back when they face the New Jersey Devils on Saturday in Newark, N.J.
The Sabres are coming off a 4-1 home defeat to the Boston Bruins on Friday, having allowed two goals in the first period despite outshooting Boston 15-7.
“I’m not too concerned about it,” Sabres coach Don Granato said. “I think these things happen. We know that. We have to make sure that we learn from it and become better because of it.
“It’s nice to be able to play (Saturday) even though there could be a fatigue factor. We need to play more efficient. Like I said, we didn’t keep the game simple enough. We didn’t play direct enough.”
A fast-paced attack has resulted in the Sabres bombarding opposing goalies thus far, with at least 33 shots on goal each game while averaging 37 through four games.
Dylan Cozens, elevated to the role of first-line center with Casey Mittelstadt injured, was one of three Sabres with six shots on goal in the loss to the Bruins. The second-year forward, who had just two shots on target in the previous three games, is still looking for his first goal of the season.
“I’ve been a goal-scorer my whole career, so I don’t let that get away from me now,” he said. “I want to keep shooting the puck, and eventually one of them’s going to go in. It’s tough when you beat the goalie and his pad comes and stops it on the goal line, but you’ve just got to keep chipping away, and it’ll come.”
Buffalo won its first three games of the season by outscoring the opposition 12-4.
The Devils were also handed their first defeat last time out, falling on their home ice 4-1 to the Washington Capitals on Thursday.
Defenseman Ty Smith will make his season debut for New Jersey after missing most of training camp and the first three games of the season with an undisclosed injury.
“He had a good year last year,” Devils coach Lindy Ruff said. “He’s a great puck mover, sees the ice really well. … One of Ty’s strengths … throughout his first year is finding the open people and creating opportunities as well as being a good defender.”
The Devils will be playing their second game without injured center Jack Hughes, who is out indefinitely with a dislocated left shoulder. That will mean more responsibility on the line of captain Nico Hischier, Pavel Zacha and Jesper Bratt to be the team’s offensive engine. The trio has combined for just three points through the first three games.
“Yeah, they do (have to lead the offense). They have to be,” Ruff said. “It really is our true No. 1. We need more out of that line, and I think if the line isn’t going well or maybe the opposition is doing a good job of shutting them down … my job as coach is try to put them in a better situation where they can create some extra opportunities if the other team’s doing a good job on them.”