Devils
Sabres
3 - 4 Final
  for this game

Hecht scores twice as Sabres move closer to East title

Mar 29, 2007 - 4:01 AM
BUFFALO, New York (Ticker) -- Jochen Hecht is getting hot and the Buffalo Sabres are getting healthy, two facts that spell trouble for the rest of the Eastern Conference come playoff time.

Hecht scored a pair of goals and Ales Kotalik and rookie Daniel Paille tallied in their return from lengthy absences as the Sabres moved closer to clinching first place in the East with a 4-3 triumph over the New Jersey Devils.

Defenseman Dmitri Kalinin recorded two assists and Ryan Miller made 28 saves for Buffalo (49-20-7), which reduced its magic number to securing the top spot in the conference to four points. The Devils (45-24-8) trail the Sabres by seven with five games remaining.

"This was very important," Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff said. "To have them three back or seven back, it was a very important win for us."

"In a great world, they lose five and we win five, but you can't think that's going to happen," Devils center Erik Rasmussen said. "It's up to them. They've earned it all year with the start they've had. They deserve it. Hopefully, home ice doesn't come into play later on (in the playoffs)."

New Jersey also failed to snap their tie atop the Atlantic Division with the idle Pittsburgh Penguins (44-23-10). Both teams have five contests left on their schedules.

"With Pittsburgh doing what they're doing, winning every game, we're aiming to win every game, getting on a roll before the playoffs start," Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur said. "We've got to play good. We're on the right track."

"We control our own destiny," New Jersey coach Claude Julien added. "We don't have to look anywhere else but our own hockey club. It's going to be up to us to finish where we want to finish."

Buffalo, which has a game in hand on New Jersey, extended its lead over second-place Ottawa (45-24-8) in the Northeast Division to seven points. It also pulled even with idle Nashville (49-21-7) in the race for the Presidents' Trophy.

"I thought it was a real good win for our team," Ruff said. "In fact, we had to tone down our style of play and be more patient. I thought we cleaned up a lot of careless errors and careless turnovers (from last game)."

Hecht opened the scoring early in the second period and gave the Sabres a 3-1 lead midway through the third, completing his fourth two-goal performance of the season. His second tally was his third in two games.

"Usually, they get the lead and stay back, focus on their defensive game," Hecht said. "That's what they're known for. I'm fortunate to get a couple goals."

After missing 15 contests with a finger injury, Paille snapped a 1-1 tie 7 1/2 minutes into the third with his third goal of the season. Kotalik, who was sidelined 16 games with a knee ailment, netted what proved to be the winning tally with just over four minutes to go in the third, putting the Sabres ahead, 4-2.

"It felt pretty good," Kotalik said of his knee. "I expected a few more problems. It seems pretty strong. I can't say I didn't feel it at all. You still feel some pain."

Scott Gomez and Zach Parise each had a goal and an assist for New Jersey, which completed the season series against Buffalo at 2-2-0. All four meetings were one-goal decisions.

"They do have great balance, especially up front in the first three lines, and they're still missing a couple guys that will give them more power," Devils captain Patrik Elias said. "We just made a couple mistakes, a couple turnovers. They made us pay for it. That's something you have to eliminate as much as possible against such a team."

Following a scoreless first period, Hecht put Buffalo ahead at 1:55 of the second, one-timing a shot from the left point past Brodeur for his 18th of the season.

Gomez drew the Devils even at 6:42, when he buried the rebound of Elias' shot from the doorstep.

But Paille restored the lead for the Sabres at 7:25 of the third. Brodeur stopped Adam Mair's slap shot from above the right faceoff circle but left a juicy rebound for Paille, who fired it into the net from the left hash marks for a 2-1 edge.

"It jumped up a little bit, it had a little hop," Paille said. "I was definitely excited to get that goal. It felt really great. He's an excellent goaltender. On a play like that, it's tough for him or any goalie to stop that. ... Today it went in, but another day, he could have saved that."

"It put them in a different position," Hecht said. "They don't want to come from behind, they want to get the lead, knock you down in the neutral zone. We got the goal that opened up the game a little for us."

Hecht doubled the advantage with 8:13 to go, receiving a backhand pass across the slot by co-captain Daniel Briere and lifting the puck over Brodeur. Defenseman Paul Martin ended a 22-game goalless drought with a backhander from the inner edge of the right circle with 6:11 remaining, cutting New Jersey's deficit to 3-2, but Kotalik's one-timer from above the left circle pushed the lead back to two goals.

"There was a rush, 3-on-2 with one guy coming back," Kotalik said. "It was a great job by Chris Drury going through the middle and opening up the lane for me. Dainius (Zubrus) just dished the puck off on a backhand. It was an unbelievable play, right at the spot I needed. I just hit it perfectly."

"They're a team that counterattacks extremely well," Julien said. "That's why they're where they are at. They make you pay dearly for every little mistake. I thought we played hard, but that third period was certainly not the type of period we wanted to play."

Parise netted his 31st tally with less than two seconds left to cap the scoring.

"They hit their shots," Brodeur said of the Sabres' third-period tallies. "Two one-timers were perfect in their wheelhouse. Both of them, I was there, just didn't hit me. The second one, I'd like to have back, that little rebound I gave up. Sometimes you get a break, but it didn't happen today."








  • NHL
    FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    NEW JERSEY 0 1 2 3
    BUFFALO 0 1 3 4 FINAL
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: NONE
    2ND PRD: BUF - JOCHEN HECHT 18 (JASON POMINVILLE, DMITRI KALININ)
    1:55
    NJD - SCOTT GOMEZ 13 (PATRIK ELIAS, BRIAN RAFALSKI) 6:42
    3RD PRD: BUF - DANIEL PAILLE 3 (ADAM MAIR, TEPPO NUMMINEN) 7:25
    BUF - JOCHEN HECHT

    Mar 28 9:33 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 3RD 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    NEW JERSEY 0 1 2 3
    BUFFALO 0 1 3 4 END OF THE 3RD
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: NONE
    2ND PRD: BUF - JOCHEN HECHT 18 (JASON POMINVILLE, DMITRI KALININ)
    1:55
    NJD - SCOTT GOMEZ 13 (PATRIK ELIAS, BRIAN RAFALSKI) 6:42
    3RD PRD: BUF - DANIEL PAILLE 3 (ADAM MAIR, TEPPO NUMMINEN) 7:25
    BUF -

    Mar 28 9:32 PM


  • NHL
    NEW JERSEY 3
    BUFFALO 4
    3RD PRD: NJD - ZACH PARISE 31 (SCOTT GOMEZ) 19:58 (WITH EXTRA
    ATTACKER)

    Devils vs. SabresMar 28 9:31 PM
  • 20
    roots
    RUWTbot Added 20 roots

    Devils vs. SabresMar 28 9:31 PM


  • NHL
    NEW JERSEY 2
    BUFFALO 4
    3RD PRD: BUF - ALES KOTALIK 15 (DAINIUS ZUBRUS, CHRIS DRURY) 15:52

    Devils vs. SabresMar 28 9:24 PM


  • NHL
    NEW JERSEY 2
    BUFFALO 3
    3RD PRD: NJD - PAUL MARTIN 3 (ZACH PARISE, TRAVIS ZAJAC) 13:49

    Devils vs. SabresMar 28 9:22 PM


  • NHL
    NEW JERSEY 1
    BUFFALO 3 7:22 LEFT, 3RD PRD

    Devils vs. SabresMar 28 9:16 PM


  • NHL
    NEW JERSEY 1
    BUFFALO 2
    3RD PRD: BUF - DANIEL PAILLE 3 (ADAM MAIR, TEPPO NUMMINEN) 7:25

    Devils vs. SabresMar 28 9:07 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 2ND 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    NEW JERSEY 0 1 1
    BUFFALO 0 1 1 END OF THE 2ND
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: NONE
    2ND PRD: BUF - JOCHEN HECHT 18 (JASON POMINVILLE, DMITRI KALININ)
    1:55
    NJD - SCOTT GOMEZ 13 (PATRIK ELIAS, BRIAN RAFALSKI) 6:42
    SHOTS ON GOAL: 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    NJD

    Mar 28 8:40 PM


  • NHL
    NEW JERSEY 1
    BUFFALO 1
    2ND PRD: NJD - SCOTT GOMEZ 13 (PATRIK ELIAS, BRIAN RAFALSKI) 6:42

    Devils vs. SabresMar 28 8:18 PM


  • NHL
    NEW JERSEY 0
    BUFFALO 1
    2ND PRD: BUF - JOCHEN HECHT 18 (JASON POMINVILLE, DMITRI KALININ) 1:55

    Devils vs. SabresMar 28 8:07 PM


  • ------------------------
    New Jersey
    0 --0
    Buffalo 0 --0
    ------------------------

    Shots on goal:
    -----------------------------
    New Jersey 9 --9
    Buffalo 6 --6
    -----------------------------

    Goalies : New Jersey, Martin Brodeur (6 shots, 6 saves). Buffalo, Ryan
    Miller (9 shots, 9 saves). Referees: Dan Marouelli, Ian Walsh.
    Linesmen: Darren Gibbs, Thor Ne

    Mar 28 7:46 PM