BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Having poured in 13 goals to win back-to-back games earlier this week, the Sabres found scoring more difficult against a strong Devils defense coached by old friend Lindy Ruff.

Victor Olofsson’s 11th goal of the season was all the offense Buffalo could generate in a 3-1 loss to Metropolitan Division-leading New Jersey, which has won 14 of 15 games and nine in row on the road.

“They got a lot of swagger right now,” Sabres coach Don Granato said. “Their defense, I thought, was pretty dominant, pretty early.”

Craig Anderson made a season-high 41 saves, but was beat for goals by Jack Hughes, Jesper Boqvist and Tomas Tatar.

“The way they played, you could’ve got run out of the building,” Granato said. “Any team could’ve tonight. They’re a team that’s feeling it right now. And I give our guys credit. Andy was great. He looked like an experienced No. 1 goaltender there many times.”

The Sabres (9-12-0) scored a single goal for the fifth time in 21 games. They are averaging 3.62 goals per game, sliding behind the Devils to fourth in the NHL.

“We came out a little bit slow in the first and they did everything a little bit faster than us,” Olofsson said. “And then we started skating a little bit more, getting pucks deep in the second and worked our way into the game. From there I think it was a tight game.”

Captain Kyle Okposo returned to the Sabres’ lineup after missing six games with a lower-body injury. “Just some wear and tear I’ve been dealing with and had to give it some time to calm down,” the 34-year-old forward said.

Buffalo defenseman Jacob Bryson is out for at least a week with a lower-body injury sustained in Wednesday’s 6-2 win against St. Louis. Casey Fitzgerald, a healthy scratch in five of the past eight games, replaced Bryson in the lineup. He is the son of New Jersey general manager Tom Fitzgerald.

The Sabres close out a three-game homestand Monday night against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Ruff is one victory from becoming the fifth NHL coach with 800 in his career. The former Sabres player won 571 games coaching Buffalo from 1997-2011. He got 165 wins in five seasons coaching Dallas, and Friday’s victory was his 63rd in two-plus seasons with New Jersey.

New Jersey bounced back from Wednesday night’s 2-1 loss at home against Toronto that ended a franchise record-tying run of 13 victories.

“We talked about not losing two games in a row,” Ruff said. “And I thought overall we got a really good team effort.”

The Devils’ road win streak matches the second-longest in team history, and their 11-1-0 record in November marks the most wins they’ve ever had in the month.

“We had great jump,” said Erik Haula, who had an assist on the Devils’ first goal after creating the scoring chance with poke check in the defensive zone. “Great O-zone pressure. We were able to get on pucks, create some turnovers. We gave up a couple chances, but I thought we had great energy.”

New Jersey backup goalie Akira Schmid made 31 saves and improved to 4-0-0 this season. The 22-year-old from Switzerland lost in each of his four starts as a rookie last season.


Jonah Bronstein joined the News 4 roster in 2022 as a digital sports reporter. Read more of his work here.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.