Tonight was one of those odd games for the Buffalo Sabres. This may have been one of their worst games overall on the five-game homestand. Yet it’s the only game they would end up winning.
The New York Islanders jumped on the Sabres early. They recorded the first eight shots of the game and dominated possession. Then one shot from Jack Eichel changed that. He came down the wing a ripped a puck off the far post and behind Jaroslav Halak. Scoring on the team’s first shot on goal.
Buffalo didn’t record another shot for nearly six minutes. Believe it or not that second shot of the period ended up in the net as well. Evan Rodrigues picked up a rebound off the back wall and slid it under Halak to make it 2-0.
The Sabres would head to the locker room leading by two after 20 minutes and shooting 50 percent on the night.
A little over seven minutes into the middle the Sabres increased their lead to three. Ryan O’Reilly deflected a Rasmus Ristolainen point shot into the net on the man advantage. Buffalo looked to be cruising to their first home win in over a month.
John Tavares gave the Islanders some life with just under six minutes remaining in the second period by scoring his 28th goal of the season. After two it was 3-1 and the Sabres still looked to be in good shape.
To start the third the Sabres went into a defensive shell that would end coming back to haunt them. Ross Johnston got the Islanders back within one goal with 12 minutes remaining.
Then with Eichel in the penalty box, Anders Lee slipped a rebound by Robin Lehner who didn’t hug the post tight enough to knot the game at three with a little over five minutes remaining.
This was now setting up to be a classic Sabres collapse we’ve seen occur on numerous occasions this season. However, two minutes later Sam Reinhart gave the Sabres back the lead. He found a loose puck in the slot and put it into a pretty empty cage with Halak out of position.
The Sabres held on in the final four minutes to earn win number 1,000 at home in franchise history.
Final Score: Sabres 4, Islanders 3
Shots on Goal: Sabres 22 | Islanders 29
Sabres Goal Scorers: Eichel (22), Rodrigues (3), O’Reilly (16) and Reinhart (11)
Islanders Goal Scorers: Tavares (28), Johnston (2) and Lee (28)
Three Stars of the Game
1. Sam Reinhart (1 G, 2 A, GWG)
2. Jack Eichel (1 G, 1 A)
3. Evan Rodrigues (1 G, 1 A)
Comment of the Game
Nice Work Boys.
A lot of good pushbacks tonight after the first 10 minutes. Got punished for a couple shifts, came back and controlled play in the Isles end. Good stuff.
Rino made some mistakes, but he was one of their best forwards. His decision making is just a touch quicker, especially controlling the ice. He’s been very good lately reversing direction to shed his check and give himself space to make a play.
There were a couple stretches where I felt (for one of the only times this year) for the Isles like I have for BFLO – the Sabres just seemed to know where the puck was going and intercepted a ton of passes in their own zone. For 3-4 minutes at a chunk, they were just breaking up play after play. Of course, they couldn’t connect on a pass when they tried to exit, but still. Another sloppy but fun game. They seem to be playing a lot looser.