Jeff Skinner recorded his 29th tally in an explosive five-goal second period as the host Buffalo Sabres defeated New Jersey 5-1 on Tuesday.
Skinner tied the game early in the period, and C.J. Smith and Casey Mittelstadt made it 3-1 as Buffalo took full control. Jake McCabe scored a shorthanded goal, and Lawrence Pilut sniped in a goal to round out the period’s scoring.
Skinner’s goal was his NHL-leading 23rd even-strength marker, and the left wing trails only Washington’s Alex Ovechkin for the overall league lead in goals.
Fourteen Sabres registered points, and Carter Hutton stopped 20 of 21 shots for Buffalo, which ran its home record to 14-5-3 and rebounded from a 2-1 loss in Boston on Saturday.
The victory was Buffalo’s first at home over the Devils since April 1, 2014, and the Sabres are just 3-7-1 in their last 11 against New Jersey.
Blake Coleman scored a goal, and Keith Kinkaid made 28 saves for the Devils, who lost their second straight and finished 1-3-0 on the road swing.
Buffalo top-line center Jack Eichel did not play in his third straight game, but linemate Sam Reinhart was in the lineup after being ill and missing Monday’s practice.
Stationed in front of Hutton, Coleman recorded his 13th goal when Miles Wood’s pass caromed in off the right wing’s right skate, matching his season high set last year. Travis Zajac’s assist was his fourth in the last three games.
In the second period, Skinner zoomed around defenseman Ben Lovejoy from the left side and roofed his goal at 1:39 to tie it at 1. Smith tallied at 4:14 when his shot past the goalie’s blocker barely trickled across the line; it was quickly reviewed and deemed good.
Mittelstadt made it 3-1 when he slashed past defenseman Damon Severson, put a shot on goal from the low slot and popped in his own rebound for his sixth goal.
McCabe flipped in his shorty off a pass from Evan Rodrigues, and Pilut scored on a long shot through traffic.
Smith and Pilut’s goals were their first in the NHL.
Neither team scored in a third period when each club put up seven shots.