Islanders Dominate in Heartbreaking Loss for Sabres as Playoff Hopes Slowly Dissipate

Were you stressed? Because...same.

Score: Islanders 3 | Sabres 2

Shots: NYI 39 | BUF 24

Buffalo Sabres Goals: Dylan Cozens (25), Kyle Okposo (8)

New York Islanders Goals: Casey Cizikas (5), Josh Bailey (8), Hudson Fasching (4)

Plus-1: UPL

As a goal-less first period wound down, it looked as though the Islanders might have taken the first lead with just a few minutes remaining before the first intermission. However, Anders Lee’s pass to Bo Horvat off the boards forced Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen to make a huge save to keep the scoreboard at 0-0. UPL continued to shine throughout most of the game with some big saves.

While the Sabres did not play poorly in the first, it was evident that they were tired from last night’s tough loss against Connor McDavid and the Oilers. Coming into tonight’s matchup, New York had a few days off since their 4-1 victory over the Red Wings on Saturday.

Plus-2: On the Board First!

Entering the second period with a bit more pep in their step, Buffalo put the pressure on the home team with an increase in speed and added discipline with their passing. This certainly paid off as Dylan Cozens found the back of the net following a play broken up by Henri Jokiharju in the neutral zone. Cozens, who now has 25 goals on the season, is one of five players on the Sabres with 20 or more goals. He is now on a three-game points streak and has seven points in the last six games.

Later in the period, forward Casey Cizikas (who dominated on faceoffs tonight) tied up the score after, quite frankly, a garbage goal that was snuck in five-hole past UPL after an unlucky bounce. Before tonight, Cizikas had gone 21 games without a goal. Woof.

For the remainder of the period, it was evident again that the Sabres were completely gassed, but played with the desperation fans expect out of a team fighting for their first playoff spot in over a decade.

Minus-1: Another One Bites the Dust

It did not take long for the Islanders to grab their first lead of the game in the opening minutes of the third period. Though UPL has, overall, looked solid tonight, he let a brutal rebound escape to give Josh Bailey an easy scoring opportunity with a backhand shot as Islanders fans erupted throughout UBS arena.

Kyle Okposo answered back from the blue line with his goal that was tipped in three minutes later to tie up the game yet again. Unfortunately for Sabres fans, this would not be enough tonight. New York responded again - this time with a questionable goal by Hudson Fasching. In what could be argued as a kicking motion, the original call of “no goal” was overturned by Toronto, giving the Islanders their lead back and Fasching his first game-winning goal of his career.

Final Thoughts

What can be said here? This was easily the most important game of the season and the Sabres just ran out of offensive steam. A true heartbreaker.

Three Stars:

  1. Hudson Fasching (1G, 1A)
  2. Josh Bailey (1G, 1A)
  3. Casey Cizikas (1G, 1A)