The New York Islanders enjoyed a 1-0 lead for most of two periods thanks to an early powerplay (!) goal, but the Sabres equalized what was an entertaining game despite its lack of goals up to that point. Very even game overall with several chances traded each way, but the Islanders actually pushed play with the lead, outshooting the Sabres 12-8 in the scoreless second period.
It was one where a bounce in either direction could have made it 2-0 or 1-1, but the Sabres got the next bounce to tie the game and make it interesting 1:54 into the third. Eight minutes later, another good shift by Brian Rolston, Josh Bailey, and David Ullstrom created the game winner, finished by Rolston just a faceoff after he couldn't quite get his stick on a puck that lay in the crease behind Jhonas Enroth, who was quite good with 28 saves.
But even better, and the big star of the game: Al Montoya and his 30 saves. He stood on his head, and saved the game when the Sabres received a 1:34 long and quite dubious 5-on-3 with under 10 minutes left in the game.
No separate plus/minus thread tonight. Put your plus/minuses here, or return to the game thread for the usual tomfoolery. This one was an earned win, a solid effort for most of 60 minutes where the bounces finally didn't go against them -- not even on that 5-on-3, which was a really, really cruel kneeing call on Josh Bailey for throwing a check on the half boards.
Not to pick on Nino Niederreiter, who had a pretty nice game all told, but him losing Jochen Hecht on the Sabres goal that tied it at 1-1 is one of those things you look for when monitoring whether he's ready for NHL hockey. Looked like Andrew MacDonald pointed for Hecht to be covered but Nino followed the expected path of the puck instead of the man.
Niederreiter sure was engaged though, with five hits and a couple of shot attempts. You can tell he likes to throw firm hits when the opportunity presents. Of course, throwing one against the smallest player on the other team, before he's gotten to the puck, leading to an interference call, is not quite that opportunity. That not only put the Islanders down a man, it also got Matt Martin drawn into a fight with Zack Kassian.
Other notes, after what really, finally, felt like a four-line effort -- and suddenly a second road win in a row:
- Kyle Okposo has re-familiarized himself with the post, I see. (3rd period chance from distance.)
- John Tavares, too. The rebound was there for Matt Moulson, but Tomas Vanek sacrificed life, limb and Enroth to prevent Moulson from getting a clean whack.
- Good play by Brian Rolston on his go-ahead goal, slipping it backhand past Enroth -- which was good karma, considering what that line had done to nearly score just before that...
- ...but it was an equally good play by Josh Bailey and David Ullstrom to feed him, with body play and a pass out front. That prompted Butch Goring to cite Jack Capuano saying the reason Ullstrom stayed on the wing after being moved there in Bridgeport was because his physical game picked up.
- With Mark Streit in the box for hooking, Josh Bailey received an absolutely awful tripping call. As a bonus, Travis Hamonic was dinged by a two consecutive point blasts from Christian Ehrhoff on the resulting 5-on-3. Went to the locker room briefly, came right back. Magic soccer spray.
- Montoya on that 5-on-3: Insane. He made back-to-back backdoor glove saves on Derek Roy that simply should not be possible: After the first, surely his groin lay in shreds but he got the glove back up for round two anyway.
- Your nightly Michael Grabner breakaway: Insane steal at center ice, through two guys ... then shooting just wide of Enroth's glove.
- PAP brainfart: P.A. Parenteau backed his way offsides with John Tavares carrying the puck and an empty net, with just under 15 seconds left. Tavares hit the side of the net anyway, but that could've been costly. After the ensuing faceoff, MacDonald ended up making a painful shot block to seal the game.
Finally, Patrick Flatley between the benches on the MSG broadcasts, next to Rob Ray (who does the Sabres from there). Thoughts?