Isles Home Stand Starts With 4-3 SO Loss To The Buffalo Sabres

The New York Islanders returned home after a disappointing road trip, losing back-to-back games to the Chicago Blackhawks and Nashville Predators. But their losing ways would follow them back home as they fell 4-3 to the Buffalo Sabres after being defeated in the shootout.

The first period opened with the Isles controlling the play for the entire period. Although both teams had plenty of shots, the Isles led the way with a 16-11 advantage. Evgeni Nabokov had to make some key saves, but the fore-check that the Isles put on in the offensive zone eventually led to a goal from Frans Nielsen.

The Danish center-man toe dragged the puck in the high slot and let go of a wicked wrister that beat Ryan Miller just over his glove and inside the far post. The assists went to Pierre-Marc Bouchard, his first as an Islanders forward, and Josh Bailey.

A scary moment occurred when Zemgus Girgensons took a slap shot to the face from teammate Tyler Myers. Islanders defenseman Travis Hamonic was the first player to check on Girgensons' status. If anyone knows how it feels to take a shot to the face, it's Hamonic, having taken an Alexander Ovenchkin shot to the face a few years ago. After a short delay, play resumed with the period ending with the same score.

The Islanders started the second period much like they started the first, but saw themselves give up a fluky tying goal. Tyler Ennis took a shot from about 60 feet out that changed directions multiple times, hobbling it's way between Nabokov's pads.

But the Islanders would respond quickly. Just under three minutes later, Casey Cizikas' shot would get stopped by Miller. Cizikas would follow up his play with a pass to Matt Martin, giving the Isles a 2-1 lead. Eric Boulton had the additional assist after Cizikas.

However the Sabres would continue to trade goals with the Islanders, getting one on the power play from Tomas Vanek. The Sabres set up a nice tic-tac-toe passing play with Cody Hodgson and Christian Ehrhoff. 

The game picked up it's physical play after John Tavares and Marcus Foligno engaged in some type of altercation which resulted with the Isles captain chasing after the Sabres forward. The following shift saw Boulton drop the gloves at center ice with Cody McCormick and Martin and Cizikas were also seen throwing their weight around. Regardless of the fisticuffs and hard hits, the Isles still held the edge in shots 32-24 after forty minutes with the score tied at two apiece.

The third period saw both teams keep up the physical play, this time between Steve Ott and Tavares. With JT wrestling with Ott in the corner, both Matt Moulson and Kyle Okposo intervened to protect their captain. Both teams suffered penalties, but the Isles would wind up with the man-advantage.

As a result, the captain would help deliver the 3-2 lead with a one-timed shot just above the right face-off dot. The puck would hit off of Moulson in front and beat Miller through his five-hole. The initial pass came from Lubomir Visnovsky at the point.

Jack Capuano wisely sent out his checking line that continued to crush the Sabres, both open ice and on the boards, to add further to the Sabres' frustrations. Henrik Tallinder would take an interference penalty at the Isles blue line that kept the home team with the man-advantage for antoehr two minutes.

The Islanders wouldn't connect on this power play, but it efficiently kept the Sabres' offense at bay with the majority of play being at their end of the ice.

Marcus Foligno would later send what appeared to be a harmless wrist shot on Nabokov that would sneak past the Islanders goaltender to tie the game up for the Buffalo Sabres with just over two minutes remaining in the game. With bodies in front of Nabokov, it was hard to determine if he had a clear view of that shot.

Overtime was something that this game should not have reached, considering the Sabres were 0-6-1 heading into this game. The Isles also managed to get 42 shots on net.

With both goaltenders getting called upon to keep their respective team in the game during the extra frame, the shootout would follow to decide the match-up.

Matt Moulson, who has recently been successful in the shootout, would score on the first attempt for the Isles, beating Miller low blocker side. But Thomas Vanek would respond with a quick snap shot that beat Nabokov over his glove.

Nielsen would shoot next for the Isles, and elected to go with his forehand on a shot that was aimed for Miller's five-hole. But the Sabres keeper was up to the task. Tyler Ennis would shoot next for the Sabres and snap a shot under Nabokov's blocker to give the visiting team a 2-1 lead in the shootout.

Tavares came in swiftly on Miller and tried to sneak a wrist-shot through his legs to extend the shootout, but the puck caught nothing but Miller's padding.

This was the first win for the Buffalo Sabres this season and a very disappointing loss for the Islanders, who are now 2-2-2 on the year and currently riding a three-game losing streak.

The Isles will look to get back above the .500 mark when they play host to the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday night.

-Rob McGowan

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