Both Henrik Tallinder and Adam Mair return to Buffalo tonight to face off against their former teams.
Mair played his last seven seasons for the Sabres before attending Devils’ training camp on a tryout contract. The center believes tonight’s game will be good.
“We’re in the same conference,” Mair said to Tom Gulitti of the Bergen Record. “We’re going to play them four times. But it will be nice to go back there and see those guys. They’re a litle desperate (the Sabrtes are 1-2). We’re desperate for a win. It should be a good game.
“I knew we played them early,” he said. “I think it’s kind of neat to be going back and playing them.”
Tallinder returns to face the team that drafted him the second round of the 1997 entry-level draft.
“I’m excited,” Tallinder said to Gulitti. “It’s going to feel awkward to be on the other side, but it’s going to be fun, fun to play against the team you played for the last eight years. I have mixed feelings. It’s going to fun, but it’s going to feel a little bit awkward too.”
Tallinder said the Sabres offered him a two-year contract before free agency began, but didn’t attempt to re-sign him when he became a free agent. Tallinder signed a four-year, $13.5 million contract with the Devils on July 1.
Despite the lack of effort to sign him, Tallinder holds no bad feelings towards his former team.
“Not at all,” he said to Gulitti. “They’ve been good to me most of the time over the past eight years, so I have no hard feelings.”
Tallinder, who heard Devils fans boo Paul Martin Monday, doesn’t know what to expect during his homecoming.
“They might (boo) sometimes,” he said. “I have no idea what they’re going to do. They might cheer (laughs). No, they won’t. What ever happens, happens.”
The homecoming underscores the desperate tone to an early regular season meeting. The Sabres come into tonight’s game at 1-2-0, and 0-2-0 on their current four-game homestand. Buffalo blew a 2-0 lead and lost to the Chicago Blackhawks, 4-3, Monday night.
The Devils enter the game 0-2-1 and with only 16 healthy skaters available to dress for the game. Opponents have outscored the Devils, 13-6, in their three losses.
The Devils lost to division rivals Pittsburgh Monday at the Prudential Center. Alex Goligoski scored the game’s first goal, giving the Penguins a 1-0 lead at 18:56 of the first period. Mark Letestu increased the lead to 2-0, scoring a power play goal at 2:32 of the second. Patrik Elias brought the Devils to within one, halving Pittsburgh’s lead to 2-1 with his first goal of the season at 8:20 of the final period. But the Devils couldn’t get the equalizer, and Martin put home the empty-netter at 19:49 to ice the victory.
Coach John MacLean acknowledged the team has yet to play a complete, 60-minute game.
“We’ve got to play 60 minutes and manage the puck better,” MacLean said. “We have to limit our turnovers, play smarter.”