Drive For .500- Islanders/ Sabres Preview
New York Islanders General Manager Garth Snow has made it clear that one thing he wanted to see is his team get to the .500 mark.
A win over the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday night will make that a reality.
Coming off a thrilling 2-1 overtime victory Friday night against the Ottawa Senators, the Islanders return to the Nassau Coliseum in search of their third consecutive victory.
Getting a positive result didn’t look promising as Ottawa took a 1-0 lead into the third period before Matt Martin brought the game level on a slick wrist shot off a feed from P.A Parenteau. In Overtime, Marc Eaton, who hasn’t scored since 2009, took a pass from Milan Jurcina and put the puck into the wide open net for the winner.
Evgeni Nabokov made 23 saves for his 10th win of the season. P.A Parenteau had assists on both Islanders goals.
The Sabres come to Long Island off a 1-0 shootout loss to the New York Rangers on Wednesday night. Ryan Miller and Henrik Lundqvist did not yield any goals during regulation and overtime. Ryan Callahan, in the fifth round, scored to win the shootout for the Rangers.
Miller is only one victory away from usurping Dominik Hasek for the all-time record for wins by a Sabres goaltender. Recently his play has improved, but for the season he is a disappointing 13-15-3. He will likely be in goal as the Sabres haven’t played since Wednesday.
Tremendous victory last night against a good Ottawa team. Everyone played well and contributed to the win. P.A Parenteau continues to amaze me with his ability to find the open man when it looks like the play isn’t there. On their 1st goal, how he feathered the puck to Martin, who didn’t do badly himself with the snap shot, was unbelievable. On the game-winner, he was on the ice with Jurcina and Eaton, not exactly the most prolific offensive players on the roster. He was able to make it work as he got Jurcina the puck, who somehow found Eaton who was on the Mark (I’ve wanted to use this for two seasons) and found the back of the net. Nabokov, besides giving up the soft goal, was against sensational and gave his team a chance to win. His numbers for the season continue to improve and it is becoming more and more likely that he will be an Islander for the remainder of the season.
How big is this game tonight? For starters it’s a four-point game against a team right next to you in the standings. The Islanders are playing their best hockey all season at the moment and need to capitalize on the momentum. The Sabres are a good match-up for the Isles in general and tonight needs to be a game they come out fast and get an early goal or two to break their spirit. Buffalo has a lot to play for as well, being in essentially the same position as the Isles. Miller or Enroth doesn’t concern me in goal, both have glaring weaknesses in their game that can be exploited. I hope they continue to ride Nabokov as he gives them the best chance to win. Montoya is a nice story and has been serviceable, but his perchance for the soft goal in big spots isn’t what you need in a game that will likely be tight checking with few point-blank scoring chances.
.500 is considered average, but for the Islanders it would be fantastic considering where this team has been the last few seasons. Hopefully the fans come out tonight and support their team. It’s a tough climb but this is as good a team as we’ve had in a few years and they deserve the support, especially as we are officially in a race for the 8th spot.
It’s a good time to be an Islanders fans at the moment, lets hope the momentum of last night carries into a huge game tonight.
Playoffs??!!! You’re talking about Playoffs??!! You know what, I am!
Twitter- @jmad814 @tclisles