If the Devils somehow miss the playoffs this season—and that is not something they will even consider at this point—they may look back at lost shootouts as the reason.

After falling to the Buffalo Sabres, 4-3, today at First Niagara Center, the Devils have lost all three of their shootouts this season. That’s an alarming record for a club that went 12-4 last season and may have gotten into the playoffs because of it.

“Last year we had (12) shootouts wins, so that’s (12) extra points,” Ilya Kovalchuk pointed out. “If we didn’t get them, I don’t think we would’ve made the playoffs. They’re very important points. We all know we have to be better.”

Kovalchuk may have been exaggerating a bit. Certainly the Devils wouldn’t have lost all 12 shootouts last season. But it is a point well-taken.

“We’re leaving a lot of points on the table,” coach Pete DeBoer said. “We were the benefactors of that last year. This year we’re on the other side of it. I don’t have the answer to it. I’m not a big believer you can practice that. You just hope it turns and we get some guys to stick the puck in the net.”