Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#49 Buffalo Sabres vs.
#50 New Jersey Devils
Tuesday, February 23, 2021 at 7:05pm EST
Prudential Center, Newark
Written by Valdis Pans

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With five defeats in their last six contests, the Buffalo Sabres (8th in East Division) will play the second contest of a back-to-back set, visiting the New Jersey Devils (7th in the East), who have dropped their past two decisions.

Sabres Drop Fifth In Six

A fifth defeat in the last six fixtures (1-5-0) was on the menu for the Buffalo Sabres (5-8-2), who were edged out with a count of 3-2 by the New York Islanders at Nassau Coliseum last night. Curtis Lazar (4 goals, 5 points this year) opened the scoring at the end of the first period before Sam Reinhart (6 goals, 11 points) tallied with the man-advantage just under six minutes into the third frame to make it 2-2, only for the Isles to bury the power-play winner with less than five minutes remaining on the clock. The Sabres outshot New York 36-23, went 1-for-3 on power play and killed one of its two penalties.

Goalie Linus Ullmark stopped 20 shots yesterday to take his current performance total to 4-4-2 for the ongoing campaign with a 2.66 GAA and a .906 save percentage. Expect Carter Hutton (1-4-0 on the season with a 2.85 GAA and a .898 save percentage) back in the net for Buffalo tonight, though, with the 35-year-old having posted a 4-4-0 past total against the New Jersey Devils with a 2.62 GAA and a .894 save percentage. The Sabres, meanwhile, are 4th in least goals scored per game this year (2.33), 11th in most goals allowed on average (3.00), 3rd best in power-play (32.7%; 16-for-49) and 23rd in penalty kill (75.8%; 25-for-33).

Devils Lose Two In Row

The New Jersey Devils (6-5-2) were beaten for the second consecutive time (0-2-0) after dropping a 4-3 decision against the Washington Capitals at Capital One Arena on Sunday. Playing the second outing of a back-to-back set following Saturday’s 3-2 home defeat to the Buffalo Sabres, the Devils took a 2-0 lead through Andreas Johnsson (3 goals, 6 points this year) and Jack Hughes (4 goals, 11 points) before the Caps tallied on four consecutive occasions, with New Jersey able to respond with just one subsequent strike courtesy of Nikita Gusev (1 goal, 2 points), who scored with the extra attacker 12 seconds from time.

Goalie Aaron Dell (0-1-0 on the season with a 4.21 GAA and a .902 save percentage) stopped 37 shots on his Devils debut. Mackenzie Blackwood (4-1-1 this year with a 2.11 GAA and a .938 save percentage), though, remains the likeliest starter on Tuesday, despite having gone 0-2-0 against the Sabres historically with a 4.55 GAA and a .854 save percentage. The Devils, meanwhile, are scoring the 11th lowest quantity of goals per game in 2020-21 (2.77), while conceding the 9th lowest amount defensively (2.69). The team is 21st in power play (15.8%; 6-for-38) and bottom of the league in penalty kill (59.5%; 25-for-42).

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The only victory the Sabres have in their last six contests is against the Devils, who have already dropped two of three outings from their eight-game head-to-head matchup this season. Do bank on New Jersey to even the series at 2-2 on Tuesday, though! Buffalo has simply not been ruthless enough to finish off games it has shown great promise in lately and will be playing with no rest, having already failed in 98 of its previous 138 fixtures played on the second day of a back-to-back set. The Devils, meanwhile, have gone 5-1 in their last six outings as a favorite. And while New Jersey has lost its past two decisions, the attitude the team shows in difficult situations this year definitely gives the side an extra edge against struggling sides.

Prediction: New Jersey Devils (-130)

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Quite a few goals have been buried in the past few meetings between New Jersey and Buffalo, with four of the last five averaging no less than 7.75 strikes per outing. Still, do expect a lot less scoring tonight! When playing without a breather, the Sabres have already cruised below the set goal-mark on 13 of the previous 18 occasions. Ten of the past 11 contests of the Devils, with the team considered a favorite to win, meanwhile, have all seen just a modest amount of snipes on the scoreboard, as have five of the most recent six domestic fixtures of New Jersey, averaging just 3.60 tallies per game.

Prediction: Under 5.5

Written By Valdis Pans , "Valdis Pans"

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