NEWARK, N.J. – Forget about finally putting together a winning streak. Now the Buffalo Sabres are on a losing streak when they simply can't afford it.
All-Star Kyle Palmieri had a goal and two assists as the New Jersey Devils built a 2-0 lead in the second period and made it stand up for a 4-1 win over the Sabres in Prudential Center on Sunday.
The Sabres opened their three-game road trip with a loss that was yet another disappointment in a stretch full of them. Buffalo ended its seven-game homestand at 3-3-1 after Friday's 6-2 stinker against the New York Rangers and couldn't rebound in this one despite a 34-24 advantage in shots on goal.
If you're still keeping track of what's left of the playoff race, the loss dropped Buffalo six points behind Pittsburgh in the Eastern Conference wild-card chase after the Penguins' 6-5 win over the New York Rangers. The Sabres are 1-3 in their last four games and have dropped two straight.
Sam Reinhart scored the only goal for Buffalo, with 55.2 seconds left in the second period. That got the Sabres within 2-1 and they pressed for a tying goal in the third. But that effort was rendered moot by Palmieri's 26th goal of the season, which came on a shot off the crossbar past Carter Hutton with 5:52 to go to make it 3-1. Joey Anderson added an empty-net tally.
Big game in Devils net: New Jersey goalie Cory Schneider broke a 21-game winless streak Friday night and made it two straight with 33 saves Sunday. He's 9-3-3 in his career against Buffalo.
A scoreless first: Neither team scored in the first period and Buffalo had a 12-11 advantage in shots on goal. Both teams had a fruitless power play.
Moving ahead: The Devils took the lead at 7:25 of the second period on Miles Wood's goal as he took a pass from Palmieri on a 2-on-1 situation. The puck skittered off Wood's skates and was deflected by Hutton, but was ruled a good goal because there was no kicking motion.
Local connection: Wood, 23, was born in Buffalo in 1995 while his father, Randy, was playing for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Randy Wood played 741 NHL games, including 236 for the Sabres from 1991-94. He had two 20-goal seasons for Buffalo.
Two for the hosts: New Jersey went up 2-0 on Jasper Bratt's one-timer at 13:38 with Vladimir Sobotka in the penalty box for holding. The puck hit the post, ricocheted off the television camera inside the net and quickly boomeranged out, but was quickly called a goal.
Breaking the ice: Reinhart scored his 14th of the season, taking a cross-ice pass from Zach Bogosian and beating Schneider from the left circle. It was Reinhart's 51st point of the season, surpassing his career high set last year.
Long time, no trip: This was the Sabres' first game in Prudential Center in nearly 14 months, since a 4-3 overtime victory on Dec. 29, 2017, that was secured on a goal by Rasmus Ristolainen. They return here for a game on March 25.
Counting the house: The Devils announced a sellout crowd of 16,514. While there were certainly some empty seats, it was certainly one of the bigger in-house crowds for a visit by the Sabres in recent years.
At the bottom: The teams entered the game with just 15 points since Jan. 1, tied with Ottawa for the fewest in the Eastern Conference in that span. The Sabres were 7-9-1 and the Devils were 7-12-1.
Next: The Sabres headed to Sunrise, Fla., immediately after the game and will practice Monday at BB&T Center. They'll meet the Florida Panthers there at 7 p.m. Tuesday.