The New York Islanders fell to the Buffalo Sabres 3-2 in overtime Friday night. Former Islanders did some damage for Buffalo with Matt Moulson scoring the tying goal in the third period and Kyle Okposo assisting on the game-winning tally in overtime.
J.F. Berube made his first start of the season and played well, making 34 saves to help his team earn a point.
The Islanders penalty kill was once again a problem as Buffalo’s tying goal came when the Sabres had the extra attacker. The Isles have allowed at least one power play goal in each game during their four-game losing streak (0-3-1).
The Islanders got off to a strong start in the first period and quickly started peppering shots at Sabres goalie Robin Lehner.
Ryan Strome finally broke the ice at 13:08 of the opening period when he took a drop pass from Cal Clutterbuck and snapped the puck past Lehner. It was the second straight game Strome scored after a 20-game personal goal drought that dated back to Oct. 21.
The Sabres offense came alive in the second period and it didn’t take long for Buffalo to tie the game. Defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen made a great pass that looked like an attempted shot. Johan Larsson redirected the pass from the deep slot and the game was tied 1-1 at 2:32.
The Islanders were also able to get some good scoring chances in the wide-open second period and the power play clicked to give the Isles back the lead. Upstate New York native Shane Prince made a pass through a myriad of skates in front that found Alan Quine open just outside the crease. Quine beat Lehner for his second goal of the year at 6:39 and the Islanders led 2-1.
The Islanders were playing their third game in four nights and they looked like a tired team in the third period. The Sabres outshot the Isles 12-4 and had several chances to even the score before Moulson tied the game with a power play goal at 3:19. Moulson banked the puck in off the skate of Isles defenseman Thomas Hickey from a bad angle.
After the game was tied, strong play by Berube enabled the Islanders to force overtime and come away with a point.
The Islanders had an early scoring chance in overtime but John Taavares stumbled near the Buffalo crease which led to an odd-man rush the other way. Okposo held the puck and waited for the trailer and Ristolainen beat Berube who was screened on the play by traffic in front of the net. The Islanders lost for the fourth straight game, all but wiping out their previous 5-0-1 streak earlier this month.
The Islanders played a better overall game than they did in other games during this slide, but moral victories ring hollow for a team that is already in the Eastern Conference cellar. Berube’s solid play and some scoring from lines other than the top unit are encouraging but once again the Islanders were undone by their failure to kill off key power plays and the inability to pull out a win in a close game.
NYI – Ryan Strome (4) assisted by Cal Clutterbuck and Nikolay Kulemin
BUF – Johan Larsson (5) assisted by Rasmus Ristolainen and Jake McCabe
NYI – Alan Quine PPG (2) assisted by Shane Prince
BUF – Matt Moulson PPG (8) assisted by Evander Kane and Brian Gionta
BUF – Rasmus Ristolainen (2) assisted by Kyle Okposo
THW Three Stars
First: Rasmus Ristolainen (GWG, assist)
Second: Robin Lehner (Win, 33 saves)
Third: J.F. Berube (34 saves)
Ottawa Senators vs New York Islanders
Barclays Center – 7:00 PM EST on Sunday, December 18
Broadcast Channels: MSG-Plus and TVAS, Sportsnet
2016-17 Season Series: First Matchup of the Season
Long time hockey writer and author of the new book, “Ice Wars: The Complete History of New York’s Greatest Modern Sports Rivalry.” It tells the story behind every game between the Rangers and Islanders dating back to 1972 and features profiles of more than 80 players from both teams and quotes from more than 50 exclusive interviews from players, coaches and broadcasters from both teams.