Islanders Edge: Isles recover from slow start, get job done
photo credit: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
In a bounce-back game, the New York Islanders did not start well by any means. The struggling Buffalo Sabres outshot the Isles 12-3 in the first period, even outplaying them mercilessly at times. Of course, with this type of play from both sides, it was no surprise who struck first.
17:15 into the first frame, Curtis Lazar scored his fourth goal of the season. Henri Jokiharju and Casey Mittlestadt were credited with assists.
Determined to stay hot and tie the game, Isles captain Anders Lee scored his eighth goal on the year 3:56 into the second period, with assists from Jordan Eberle and Ryan Pulock.
Despite scoring the lone goal of the period, New York wasn’t nearly satisfied with its performance. They outshot Buffalo 8-7 in the period, but through the first forty-minutes, the Isles only had 11 shots compared to Buffalo’s 19.
But, as they always do, the Isles picked it up and got going.
Just 3:01 into the third period, Matt Martin scored his second goal of the season. Andy Greene got his first assist on the year, and Casey Cizikas his second.
4:17 into the final regulation frame, Isles captain Anders Lee took an undisciplined interference penalty against Riley Sheahan. In a tight game, this is the last thing Barry Trotz’s Isles wanted to do.
The Sabres capitalized on their overall productive power-play. Sam Reinhart scored his sixth goal of the season, knocking the puck out of mid-air past Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov. Victor Olofsson and Rasmus Dahlin had assists, and the time stamp of the goal was 5:48 in.
New York ended up once again being outshot by Buffalo in the third period, 17-12.
However, 13:25 into the third period, Riley Sheahan tripped Mathew Barzal. Working the Sabres penalty-killers hard and moving the puck well, the Islanders took the lead yet again. Jean-Gabriel Pageau cleaned up Oliver Wahlstrom’s rocket of a shot and backhanded it past Sabres goaltender Linus Ullmark. Wahlstrom and Nick Leddy both got assists.
With the Buffalo net empty, New York shut them down and finished the job. The final score was 3-2.
For the Islanders, 2-points were necessary tonight to get back in playoff position and on the right path to where they want to go. It wasn’t pretty, but it’s the structure, and it wins hockey games. Being in the win column is all that matters when it comes to making the playoffs, and if the Isles can find ways to win night after night, they’re in great shape. They will take on the top team in the MassMutual East Division, the Boston Bruins, on Thursday. They look to improve to 3-0 against the B’s and pick up another 2-points. Puck drop is set for 7:00 PM Eastern Time.