Rasmus Ristolainen scores in OT, Sabres beat Devils 4-3
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By MIKE FARRELL
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) A coach's challenge by Phil Housley saved the game for the Buffalo Sabres.
Rasmus Ristolainen scored 2:37 into overtime to give the Sabres a 4-3 victory over New Jersey on Friday night, snapping the Devils' winning streak at five games.
The game probably wouldn't have gotten that far, if not for Housley's challenge that nullified a potential go-ahead goal by New Jersey's Taylor Hall.
Jack Eichel got his second goal of the game for Buffalo, a power-play score, at 11:04 of the third to tie the game 3-3. Only 1:17 later, Hall tucked a backhander past Robin Lehner to complete a breakaway, and Housley called for a video review.
"I was thinking he didn't have possession, but when I looked at it again he was onside until he lifted his skate," Housley said.
Mat Myers, Buffalo's video coach, alerted Housley to the challenge.
"It was a big turning point in the game," Housley said.
Replays showed Hall dangling and spinning at the blueline before entering the Sabres zone. After a lengthy review, Hall was ruled offside and deadlock continued.
Hall knew they play might be wiped out.
"I'm on the breakaway and I'm thinking this is maybe going to be offsides," Hall said. "That's the way it goes sometimes. In my head I was trying to keep my foot down onside as long as possible, but I also wanted to get some separation for a breakaway."
That set the stage for Ristolainen's winner.
He bulled his way out of the corner in the New Jersey zone to beat Cory Schneider for his first goal of the season.
"The only place where I looked was the net." Ristolainen said. "I tried to take the puck there, maybe make a little move and just found a little corner there."
Former Devil Jacob Josefson added a goal in his return to New Jersey and Robin Lehner stopped 35. Last in the Eastern Conference, the Sabres improved to 2-3-2 in their last seven games. They will head outdoors to face the New York Rangers on Monday at Citi Field, the home of baseball's New York Mets, in the Winter Classic.
Miles Wood, Marcus Johansson and John Moore scored for New Jersey, and Schneider made 25 saves. The Devils were bidding for a sweep of a six-game home stand. Instead, they settled for 11 of 12 points after letting a two-lead against the Sabres slip away.
"It's a disappointment for sure," Johansson said. "We went into this game wanting to win and we had them where we wanted. It's a good team. You can't go out and just think you play 60 minutes and win the game. We played pretty good for the first 40 minutes and then they pushed us back a little bit."
Wood opened the scoring at 13:35 of the first period, capping a prolonged scramble in front of Lehner. The Devils kept poking at the loose puck as the Sabres failed to clear. Wood finally shoveled the puck into the cage, reaching the 10-goal level for the first time.
New Jersey outshot Buffalo 13-3 in the second period, getting goals from Johansson and Moore. The Sabres made their trio of shots count as Josefson and Eichel scored to leave the Devils with a 3-2 lead after two.
Josefson tied it at 1 with a breakaway score at 5:27 after intercepting Blake Coleman's pass in the Buffalo zone.
The Devils got the next two, seeming to take charge of the contest.
Johansson beat Lehner with a one-timer from the right circle following a cross-ice pass from Sami Vatanen for a power-play tally at 8:34.
Moore found the net with a wrister from the left point with Brian Boyle providing an effective screen at 14:55.
Eichel, unchecked behind the Devils' defense, deflected Jake McCabe's point shot with 1:55 left in the period to pull the Sabres within one.
NOTES: Devils D Dalton Prout cleared waivers and was assigned to Binghamton of the AHL. ... Josefson signed with Buffalo in the offseason. A first round selection by New Jersey in 2009, Josefson was saluted with a video blurb during warmups. ... McCabe played in his 200th game. .. Vatanen led all players with 8 shots; Eichel topped Buffalo with 5.
Sabres: Face the New York Rangers in the Winter Classic at Citi Field on Monday.
Devils: At Washington on Saturday night
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Updated December 29, 2017