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Sabres 3, Islanders 1: Isles snap win streak in boring loss

It wasn’t the New York Islanders’ night in Buffalo, snapping a three-game win streak and an opportunity to extend their division lead.

NHL: New York Islanders at Buffalo Sabres
Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

This game was a total snooze-fest until midway through the third period. A low-event game can be entertaining when pucks are going in, but in a low-scoring game, having only 25 shots total through two periods is just boring. The Buffalo Sabres scored first, Jeff Skinner continuing his fantastic season, but Casey Cizikas tied the game at the end of the first. Unfortunately, the Isles rarely had any sustained pressure during the game, and the Sabres scored again off a Jason Pominville deflection, and late in the third, Johan Larsson ensured the puck crossed the line off a Kyle Okposo shot, sealing the game.

[Game Sum | Event Sum | Natural Stat Trick | HockeyViz | Corsica]

First Period

Jeff Skinner opened the scoring off a Jack Eichel faceoff win, on a shot that Robin Lehner probably should have had. The Isles had an unremarkable 8 shots on goal this period, but one made it past Linus Ullmark at the end of the period. Casey Cizikas scored his 13th goal of the season on a quick shot in the slot off a feed from Matt Martin. That would ensure the Isles didn’t end the period trailing, but with the period coming to a close, the momentum would not carry on into the second.

Second Period

Casey Cizikas took a penalty, the only one of the game for either team, and the Isles were able to kill it, keeping the game even.

However, a Josh Bailey turnover off a bad Michael Dal Colle pass sent the Sabres the other way, with Jack Eichel earning his second assist of the game when Jason Pominville gave Buffalo the lead again. That score would remain for the rest of the period, with the Isles looking to tie the game in the third.

Third Period

The best shift of the game came from the Mathew Barzal line, where they generated a few good scoring chances but none were able to get past Ullmark. Dal Colle was a big part of that great shift, with his strong forechecking extending the offensive zone time. Unfortunately, nothing came of the shift, but the Isles started to push offensively. Cal Clutterbuck nearly tied the game, and every time Ullmark was called upon, he made the save. Anthony Beauvillier nearly tucked his own rebound in, but missed by an inch.

After those close calls, a Kyle Okposo shot got past Lehner, with Johan Larsson pushing the puck past the goal line to make it 3-1 with just a few minutes left in the period. Nick Leddy hit the crossbar in what could have sent the deficit back to one, but with the extra skater, the Isles couldn’t score.

Quick Thoughts

  • If you didn’t see this game live, you didn’t miss a lot. A low-event, low-scoring hockey game that fans should forget about as should the players. Move on from this.
  • For the first time all season, the Islanders did not draw a penalty.
  • Trotz seemed to be switching things up to get Mat Barzal and Anders Lee going, playing the two together for a shift with Josh Bailey. It might be worth it to try Lee-Barzal-Eberle and have Nelson play with Dal Colle and Bailey. Lee and Barzal are two players who need to be on for this team to succeed.

Up Next

Next, the New York Islanders head to Columbus to take on the Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena. The Isles are 5 points ahead of Blue Jackets in the division after they beat the Washington Capitals 3-0 tonight. This game will be an important one in keeping position in the Metro Division, and it’ll be a good opportunity to bounce back after this lousy one in Buffalo.