Rein­hart’s game-ty­ing goal nul­li­fied by video re­view

The Buffalo News - - SPORTS - By Lance Lysowski

NE­WARK, N.J. — Evan Ro­drigues and Sam Rein­hart chose to be diplo­matic in the af­ter­math of an­other gut-wrench­ing loss that con­tin­ued the Buf­falo Sabres’ his­toric col­lapse.

Nei­ther gave their opin­ion on a con­tro­ver­sial call. Phil Hous­ley didn’t mince words, though.

The Sabres’ coach was ir­ri­tated that Rein­hart’s pos­si­ble ty­ing goal in the third pe­riod Mon­day night was nul­li­fied be­cause of­fi­cials de­ter­mined through video re­view that Ro­drigues in­ter­fered with New Jer­sey Devils goalie Cory Sch­nei­der.

De­spite fir­ing 46 shots on net, the Sabres al­lowed an empty-net goal with 1:25 re­main­ing in reg­u­la­tion and lost to the Devils, 3-1, in Pru­den­tial Cen­ter. Hous­ley’s play­ers per­formed with the sort of ur­gency they lacked dur­ing their short play­off push.

The Sabres cre­ated traf­fic in front of Sch­nei­der and had 28 more shot at­tempts. They also lim­ited the Devils to just 21 shots on goal. Yet, Buf­falo (31-35-9) lost for the 16th time in 19 games, and it has dropped 10 of its last 11.

”I just thought we played the right way for 60 min­utes,” Hous­ley lamented. “We had op­por­tu­ni­ties. We had chances. We just didn’t find the next goal. It’s un­for­tu­nate they get that power play in the third there, and I didn’t

agree with the goalie in­ter­fer­ence call. We have to con­tinue to play this way. We’re go­ing to get re­sults if we con­tinue to tighten it up.”

Be­fore the Sabres touched a puck in prac­tice Sun­day in Pru­den­tial Cen­ter, their coaches showed play­ers clips of traf­fic in front of Carter Hut­ton com­pared to Mon­treal goalie Carey Price dur­ing a 7-4 loss Satur­day night.

The dif­fer­ence was re­mark­able. Hous­ley harped on get­ting to the net against the Devils (29-39-9), while im­prov­ing puck man­age­ment. Af­ter all, the Sabres’ 5-on-5 play has de­te­ri­o­rated since their 10-game win streak in Novem­ber be­cause of turnovers.

His team re­sponded with its first 40-plus shot per­for­mance since Feb. 1, and the fewest shots against since a 5-1 win over the Devils in KeyBank Cen­ter on Jan. 8. Ull­mark made timely saves, par­tic­u­larly dur­ing the Devils’ late sec­ond-pe­riod blitz.

A num­ber of Sabres also played well. A late ad­di­tion to the lineup with Zach Bo­gosian in­jured, Lawrence Pi­lut had three shots on goal and was re­mark­able with the puck. Ras­mus Dahlin had five shots on goal, while Jeff Skin­ner had a team-high six and Jack Eichel had a strong third pe­riod.

Yet, Sch­nei­der stopped 45 shots, in­clud­ing all 22 he faced in the third pe­riod. It ap­peared he al­lowed the ty­ing goal with 13:36 re­main­ing in reg­u­la­tion when Rein­hart buried a re­bound from Skin­ner’s shot into the net. Devils coach John Hynes chal­lenged for goalie in­ter­fer­ence, and af­ter al­most five min­utes, of­fi­cials ruled that Ro­drigues hin­dered Sch­nei­der’s abil­ity to make a save.

Hous­ley, on the other hand, thought Devils de­fense­man Travis Greene was at fault by skat­ing back­ward into Ro­drigues.

”I to­tally dis­agree with the call,” Hous­ley con­tin­ued. “I think he’s got his ter­ri­tory in front of the goal­tender. We’re telling our guys to go to the front of the net. He does the right thing. A guy backs into him. They saw it dif­fer­ently, but I dis­agreed with it.”

Fol­low­ing the de­ci­sion, Skin­ner nearly the tied the score with a break­away up the left side of the ice, only to have his shot stopped and his sec­ond chance went wide of the net. Sch­nei­der stopped one-timers from Alex Ny­lan­der and Tage Thomp­son, as well as a power-play back­han­der by Skin­ner, in the game’s fi­nal mo­ments.

In the end, the Sabres’ only goal came at 7:23 into the first pe­riod, when Rein­hart shot a puck from be­hind the red line at cen­ter ice and it took an awk­ward bounce to skip over Sch­nei­der’s leg pad, ty­ing the score 1-1. The Devils had lost 10 of their pre­vi­ous 12 games and were outscored 12-2 dur­ing a three-game stretch last week.

”It’s not a good feel­ing,” Ro­drigues said. “There’s no other way to put it. We did things right. We played the right way. We didn’t give them much. We got pucks on net. We pretty much did ev­ery­thing we wanted to, ex­cept put the puck in the net and that seems like the way it’s go­ing th­ese days.”

Though the Devils had only 10 shots on goal over the fi­nal 40 min­utes, they went 2-for-3 on the power play be­fore Miles Wood added an empty-net goal. Mean­while, the Sabres could not cap­i­tal­ize on their three pow­er­play op­por­tu­ni­ties.New Jer­sey took a 1-0 lead only 1:55 into the game, when Marco Scan­della could not clear a loose puck, and it was col­lected in the right cor­ner by Blake Cole­man, who was able to skate to the front of the net and score be­cause Scan­della was out of po­si­tion.

Fol­low­ing an im­pres­sive sec­ond pe­riod by the Sabres, New Jer­sey scored at 4:30 into the third pe­riod when Ull­mark was un­able to see Pavel Zacha’s shot be­cause of Wood’s screen in front of the net.

”We let a guy walk right out of the cor­ner, and we got the puck right on our stick,” Hous­ley said. “Those things hap­pen fast af­ter the fact, but that shot from the side — I think Li­nus was lean­ing the wrong way, in­stead of lean­ing on the other side.”

The Sabres own the NHL’s third-worst road record and are 12th in the East­ern Con­fer­ence. Their next stop is Ot­tawa, where they will play the sec­ond night of a back-to-back to­day.

Getty Images

Goalie Cory Sch­nei­der and Pavel Zacha of the Devils de­fend the net against the Sabres’ Sam Rein­hart on Mon­day night.

Getty Images

The Devils’ Nico His­chier, left, bat­tles for the puck against the Sabres’ Jack Eichel dur­ing the first pe­riod on Mon­day night.

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