BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) - Martin Brodeur made 24 saves for his 111th NHL shutout, and Ilya Kovalchuk scored 53 seconds into overtime to lift the short-handed New Jersey Devils to their first win of the season, 1-0 over the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday night.
Brodeur, who came in with just an .859 save percentage, extended his NHL record for shutouts with his third career blanking of the Sabres.
After losing three games to open the year, the Devils (1-2-1) used stingy defense in the first and third periods to secure the victory. New Jersey allowed only one shot in the opening 20 minutes, and eight in the third period.
Kovalchuk ripped a slap shot from the right circle that eluded goalie Ryan Miller on the stick side for the winner. Miller made 34 saves for the Sabres (1-2-1), who have lost three straight since a season-opening win at Ottawa.
After playing with 15 only skaters Monday in a loss to Pittsburgh due to salary cap limitations and injuries to defenseman Anton Volchenkov (broken nose) and forward Brian Rolston (groin), the Devils increased their roster to 16 versus Buffalo - still two shy of a full allotment of players.
Once Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond cleared waivers and was assigned to Albany of the AHL, New Jersey freed up enough cap space to sign gritty forward Adam Mair and put him in the lineup against the Sabres, Mair's former team.
Buffalo played without ironman Jason Pominville, whose 336 consecutive games streak ended. Pominville, the team's third-leading scorer last season, sustained a concussion and gash under his eye after being hit into the boards from behind by Chicago defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson in Buffalo's loss to the Blackhawks on Monday.
Hjalmarsson was given a two-game suspension by the NHL on Wednesday.
NOTES: New Jersey D Henrik Tallinder returned to Buffalo for the first time since leaving the Sabres and signing with the Devils during the offseason. Tallinder played seven full seasons in Buffalo. ... Mair played seven seasons with the Sabres before becoming a free agent this summer. ... These teams will meet again in 10 days in New Jersey. ... The last game Pominville missed was on April 7, 2006, against Philadelphia when he was a healthy scratch. ... C Nathan Gerbe replaced Pominville in the lineup. ... Volchenkov, D Colin White, and C Travis Zajac were the only Devils players who entered with a positive plus-minus rating.
The Associated Press News Service
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