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Isles, Sabres look to rebound [Game Thread]

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New York Islanders (7-10-2) at Buffalo Sabres (9-7-3)

7 p.m. EST | Not the Aud | MSG+

Buffalo Sabres SBN blog: Die By The Blade

Here's hoping for a better result than the last meeting, when the Sabres ran over the Islanders at the Coliseum, 7-1. Of course, the other rematch of opening week contests -- the Isles lost the season opener in New Jersey, 2-1 -- didn't turn out so well last night.

But the Sabres are reeling. NHL on the Fly last night discussed the fire-and-brimstone quotes from Lindy Ruff, who took the big step of scratching Maxim Afinogenov and Henrik Tallinder. They appear to be healthy scratches again tonight. Die By The Blade says the Sabres are in a free fall, hurting after their promising start to the season. They've lost four in a row and are 1-5-1 in their last seven.

Like the Devils last night, the Sabres are going with their second-choice 'keeper, Patrick Lalime; the Bruins lit up Ryan Miller this week before the Sabres 3-0 loss to the Flyers (ex-Sabre Martin Biron shut them out on 40 shots) last night. Their record is still superior to the Isles', but clearly the Isles have a much higher Happiness Quotient right now. The fringe benefits of low expectations.

Happy or not, the Islanders need to pick up the pieces after a rough night in Newark. They've called up Jeremy Colliton to replace the injured Frans Nielsen. Colliton was scoreless in 16 games on Long Island las season, but as I noted this week, he got under 9 minutes per game. Nielsen was the best Islander on the ice until a careless Mike Mottau elbow -- just a wee 2-minute infraction, apparently -- took him out. Scott Gordon explained his reaction:

Trent Hunter went after Mottau right away, and was essentially thrown out of the game (17 PIM, to Mottau's 7). If you're wondering why Scott Gordon didn't release Towering Mitch Fritz to wreak havoc, Gordon had this to say:

"No, I don't think that's the right thing to do," Gordon said. "You jeopardize your own players' safety if you put a player out like that. It kind of gives the impression that you're trying to create or do something. ... We've got a game [tonight in Buffalo]. I didn't want our guys to be overtaxed. Next thing you know, we've got a short bench because we've got three guys in the box because they respond to something that isn't the message we're trying to send. Next thing you know, you're finishing the game with six forwards."

Sheesh, remember back when all goalies had a screw loose? But seriously, I like Gordon's thinking here. Hunter did "the code" thing, and the Isles' bench truly was short at that point. It was a wacky game, but not one with that kind of brawling feel to it. Just a (essentially unpenalized -- but also apparently uncharacteristic)poor move by Mottau.