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Sabres 5, Islanders 3: Spiraling to the finish

The Islanders were outmatched in one of their few remaining games against eliminated teams.

New York Islanders v Buffalo Sabres
Hmmph.
Photo by Ben Green/NHLI via Getty Images

There was really nothing for the New York Islanders to take away from a mundane Saturday afternoon loss in Buffalo.

The Sabres outplayed them in extending a win streak to four games, running away with things in the second period after the Isles survived the opening period still tied 1-1.

The Isles were without J-G Pageau and Anthony Beauvillier, meaning Otto Koivula got another look and both Matt Martin and Ross Johnston were in the lineup, as were both tough-graded youngsters Kieffer Bellows (who scored) and Oliver Wahlstrom.

One wonders what things would look like now if they had been in in contention: The COVID postponements and compressed schedule is at a pressure point, with four back-to-back this month (today was the beginning of the third) and a finish of five games over the next seven days, including this one.

[NHL Gamecenter | Game Sum | Event Sum | Natural Stat Trick | HockeyViz]

One bright spot: Noah Dobson had a goal and an assist, bringing those season totals to 12 and 35, respectively. Hopefully this is a sign of continued upward trajectory rather than a blip or peak during an otherwise lost season. His goal was a thing of beauty and it has Mathew Barzal excited:

“It’s going to be fun to see him grow, he’ll be one of the elite d-men in the league here pretty soon. It’s nice as an organization to have a piece like that.”

After the Isles gave up three goals in the first 13 minutes of the second period, the game looked put away. But trailing 4-1, the Isles briefly made it interesting midway through the third period when Dobson scored and then Bellows tipped a trickler in off a desperation point heave from Ryan Pulock.

Jeff Skinner regained the insurance a couple of minutes later though, and then drew the ire of Martin (after previously getting into it with Zdeno Chara. Skinner appears to be one of those players who annoys people). Some fracas-making followed two minutes later when Adam Pelech and Johnston received misconducts along with Skinner after the latter’s run-in with Martin.

Thus Spake Trotz

“Second period, we just didn’t show up. We didn’t have the battle. We were slow to pucks, we didn’t close and we weren’t hard. We buried ourselves.”

Up Next

The Islanders are back home tomorrow for another matinee, against the Hurricanes. Rolling over for them keeps the Smurfs out of [REDACTED] place in the division.