Islanders Edge: Martin, Isles swiftly defeat Sabres at home
(PHOTO CREDIT: BRUCE BENNETT/GETTY IMAGES)
The 2021 New York Islanders' storyline began with empty seats, quiet buildings, and subpar play.
In their last fourteen games, it has been anything but that. New York looks to have turned around what started as a nightmare. The question is, will it end a dream? Time will tell.
At the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum Thursday night, the Isles could tie the Washington Capitals for first place in the MassMutual East Division. With a win over the sorry Buffalo Sabres, New York would reach the 30-point mark, something only seven teams have done thus far.
Seeking a fast start Thursday, Barry Trotz got the dominant showing (and start) he wanted for his team.
In the first period, New York outshot Buffalo 18-6. 10:25 into the period, Noah Dobson's brilliant hockey IQ led to him catching up with the play and sniping one past Sabres goaltender Jonas Johansson for his second goal of the season. Jordan Eberle (5) and Mathew Barzal (12) were credited with assists. Less than six minutes later (at 16:21), Matt Martin scored from a near-impossible angle, shooting the puck off Johansson's head and into the net. Casey Cizikas (4) and Cal Clutterbuck (5) were both credited with assists.
New York outshot the Sabres 14-5 in the second. They dominated Buffalo, but Taylor Hall recorded the first goal of the period 3:08 in, ending Isles goaltender Ilya Sorokin's 143:08 shutout streak. Cody Eakin was credited an assist. Looking to respond and add to their 2-1 lead, New York needed a cushion.
14:58 into the second, Anthony Beauvillier scored his second goal of the season. Brock Nelson (5) and Josh Bailey (11) got assists.
New York continued its dominance over Buffalo throughout the third period, outshooting them 13-7. Jordan Eberle made it 4-1 just 3:14 into the period, on an assist from Anders Lee (6). The Sabres were not done yet, though. On a delayed penalty, Rasmus Ristolainen put a rebound past a sprawled Ilya Sorokin, making the game 4-2. At 14:28, Matt Martin made the score 5-2. This was his fourth goal of the season and second of the game. Casey Cizikas picked up his fifth assist on the year and the lone assist on the goal.
The final shots on goal tally was 45-18 in favor of New York. Sorokin was very solid and stopped the shots that could be stopped. The Isles are beginning to look like a scary playoff team, and with physicality, fast starts, and shots from everywhere, they are one. A full sixty-minute effort on their A-game makes New York a near impossible team to beat.
New York improves to 10-2-2 in its last fourteen games and will take on the Sabres in their next two games. The next game is on Saturday at Nassau Coliseum, with puck drop set for 1:00 PM Eastern Time.