Score: Sabres 2 | Islanders 3
Shots: Sabres 36 | Islanders 23
Sabres Goals: Curtis Lazar (4), Sam Reinhart (6)
Islanders Goals: Anders Lee (8), Matt Martin (2), Jean-Gabriel Pageau (7)
Plus-1 | Curtis Lazar the Star?
Curtis Lazar - perhaps a new fan-favorite - displayed a lot of patience as he created some scoring chances with one less skater on the ice early in the game and then throughout its remaining periods. By the end of the second period, the winger had five attempted shots and three hits. His presence and hard work were definitely noticeable in his limited ice time (7:49 going into the final period).
Additionally, the Sabres held the Islanders to just five shots on goal for almost a full two periods. Though the team fell apart at different points in the game, there were a few glimmers of decent hockey in there.
Plus-2 | Steady Sam
Sam Reinhart has proven he can score at both even strength and with the man advantage. Tonight’s goal was on the power play and it was Reinhart’s third goal in three games. He more or less made things more interesting when he batted the puck into the net like a baseball, knocking it in just under the crossbar. He may be one of the few players left that is fun to watch.
Minus-1 | Turnovers Galore
While captain Jack Eichel was the king of turnovers during the first period with three (one of which almost turned into a New York goal), his teammates also took turns at their fair share of ugly turnovers. Henri Jokiharju, Brandon Montour, and Matt Irwin were just a few others that executed some sloppy passing tonight. The absence of Rasmus Ristolainen and Jake McCabe - arguably the two grittiest players with Buffalo - is really hurting the team in more ways than one, too. Another notable defenseman in William Borgen was missing tonight and is day-to-day with an upper-body injury.
Minus-2 | Skinner Scratched
Additionally, should we address the elephant in the room or has Sabres Twitter beaten it to death? Ah yes, Jeff Skinner was a noticeable scratch tonight. And, no matter what side of the fence you are on with this one, there is no arguing perhaps other players should have been scratched first. Has Skinner scored yet? No, but he has to eventually and here is why: that is what he was signed to do. There is actual talent there and whether Coach Krueger likes him or not, it should not matter. He is being completely misused and this is not a general statement specific to this season. This has been going on since he was signed long-term and Phil Housley was giving more ice time to players like Vladimir Sobotka. Try not to get sick while reading this: Skinner makes more money than Sidney Crosby, Nathan MacKinnon, and Vladimir Tarasenko - just to name a few stars that are actually producing year after year. While it may send a message to Skinner himself as well as other players to sit him, this team is so downtrodden, the message may get lost in everyone’s low self-esteem that is permeating the air. The Sabres have lost five out of their last six games. Scratching Skinner is really not going to fix that. Making better use of Skinner would certainly move us in the right direction, though.
Buffalo closes out its disappointing road trip Tuesday night against the New Jersey Devils. Opening faceoff is at 7:00 PM.