The top two lines for the Islanders controlled things pretty early on, outshooting the Sabres 6-0 to begin. And then, on Buffalo’s first shot of the game, Jack Eichel flicked a wrister that was admittedly beautiful, but Jaroslav Halak had a clear look at it and the angle was pretty gnarly for Eichel to score on. But it happens.
That being said, when you allow one of the worst teams in the league to score two goals on their first two shots, you might also be one of the worst teams in the league. Evan Rodrigues put in a fluky rebound off the back boards with Halak spread out across the edge of his crease. Anthony Beauvillier missed a stick check on Rodrigues, and Anders Lee took a shift back on the top line after the next commercial break, though the two events may not be related.
Inarguably, the Isles outplayed Buffalo through one, but they can’t catch a break even when they play well.
The Sabres got a power play a few minutes into this frame, and a point shot from Rasmus Ristolainen was tipped over Halak’s arm by Ryan O’Reilly, a man who knows a thing or two about unexpected turns and angles at the last second.
Now that it was starting to seem as though it would be another night of horrendous misfortune, New York had to claw its way back. They finally got on the board when John Tavares willed a puck into the net, jamming at the skates of Robin Lehner to pull the puck out from behind him and push it over the goal line.
Lehner kept most of the Isles’ efforts out of his net through two periods, though, and they would have to erase a two-goal deficit in the third period.
The first ten minutes of the period featured nothing more than a rather dismal power play, creating some fear in regard to their comeback. But an unlikely kickstarter helped them get it going when Ross Johnston kept the puck deep, and when it ended up on his stick in front of Lehner, he fired a missile past the goaltender.
The comeback was completed with about 5:30 left in the game, when Lee recorded a goal with Eichel in the box for tripping Mathew Barzal. The tying third tally was Lee’s 28th; Tavares’ earlier goal was also his 28th, so the teammates remain neck-and-neck for the team lead.
So, despite embarrassingly falling behind 3-0 to one of the NHL’s perennial basement-dwellers, they at least managed to salvage a point, coming all the way back.
Oh wait a minute.
Sam Reinhart, about a minute after the game was knotted up.
And then, to top it off, Casey Cizikas played an extended shift with the Isles’ net empty. Tavares would only see the ice with about twenty seconds to go.
What do you even say anymore? When they lose games like this - gimmes, such as a game against the Buffalo Sabres - it’s hard to care about them. To get out of a three-goal hole late in the game, and then give it right back. I don’t know, folks.
The wonderment continues tomorrow night when the Red Wings, another terrible team, skate into Barclays Center. Looking forward to it.