Toffoli scores twice, Hischier returns with goal as Devils rout Sabres
The Devils erupted for four goals in the first period following Friday’s exasperating 2-1 home loss to Columbus. New Jersey won for first time at home since Oct. 29 and for the second time in eight games overall.
Alexander Holtz, Nico Hischier, Ondrej Palat, Dawson Mercer and Luke Hughes also scored for New Jersey. Jesper Bratt and Dougie Hamilton each had two assists. Hischier centered a line with Palat and Bratt and the trio combined for two goals and four assists.
“It feels good to be around the boys again and be out there and battle and come up with a win,'' said Hischier, the Devils captain who returned after missing 11 games with an upper-body injury. ”The team was connected. It was a 60-minute effort and we were a dangerous team."
The Sabres, who rallied to defeat Pittsburgh 3-2 at home on Friday, lost for the fifth time in seven games.
“It's very disappointing,'' Sabres coach Don Granato said. ”This was self-inflicted. We just didn't work hard enough."
Holtz opened the scoring 1:31 into the contest, beating Sabres goaltender Eric Comrie for his sixth goal of the season and second in two games.
Toffoli made it 2-0 on a delayed penalty against Buffalo at 11:09 with assists from Brendan Smith – who was moved up to forward for the second-straight game – and Mercer.
“I think we've got to use this as a stepping stone,'' Toffoli said. “It was definitely one of the more fun games this season.”
Hischier made it 3-0 at 15:20 with his first goal since Oct. 25.
“We came out quick, speed through the neutral zone, speed on the entries,'' Devils coach Lindy Ruff said. ”When you add a player like Nico, it kind of pushes the players back in position and gives us a little bit more depth in the top couple lines."
Hischier had last played when the Sabres visited Newark on Oct. 27, when he absorbed a high hit from Sabres defenseman Connor Clifton.
“I wanted to come back and I thought today was the right moment,'' Hischier added. “I’m glad I came back and was able to help the team.”
Clifton, who received a two game suspension for the hit, fought Smith late in the first period. Clifton, a New Jersey native, was also met with boos each time he touched the puck.
“I served my time but I know it's not over,'' Clifton said. ”I wouldn't expect it to be."
Devon Levi replaced Comrie in goal for the Sabres to start the second.
Skinner spoiled Vanecek’s shutout bid on the power-play at 1:53 of the second with his 10th goal before Toffoli scored his second of the game about a minute later.
“We're not doing a good enough job of finding a consistent game,'' said Clifton, who joined the Sabres as a free agent this year after five seasons with Boston. ”It's a mindset. We have to be better. A quarter of the season in, time is of the essence."
Devils: Hosting Islanders on Tuesday.
Sabres: Visiting New York Rangers on Tuesday.
AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/nhl