Sabres vs. Islanders recap: Buffalo comes back from down three to win in the shootout
The Sabres decided that 14 minutes was plenty of time to score three goals.
The Sabres have both team's first round picks. Of course it went to overtime.
Buffalo preyed on poor goaltending two come back from down three in the third period to earn two points in a meaningless shootout.
Sorry that I sound cynical, but you're reminded that the Sabres had as many regulation wins as Colorado the year they got Nathan MacKinnon. Connor McDavid had a goal and two assists for Canada tonight.
To be fair, it was a very fun game. The crowd was probably as loud as it has been all season, and by 3-3 the game felt like a throwback to the mid-2000's teams. Ted Nolan said in his press conference it reminded him of his time in the 90's.
The Islanders got out to their three goal lead thanks to a goal by Nick Leddy and two by John Tavares. The first period wasn't a horrendous one for the Sabres despite being down 1-0. They outshot the Islanders and created many opportunities, but just couldn't finish. The second was far less productive, as the Buffalo offense seemed to stall.
The comeback began six minutes into the third when Nick Deslauriers scored his fourth goal of the season. Drew Stafford deked around the defender along the boards to get a chance on Kevin Poulin, leading to the puck being cleared out right to Deslauriers. Tonight was one of Deslauriers best as a Sabre. He had three or four real solid opportunities before he was finally able to light up the lamp. He's become a personal favorite of mine.
He also was the focal point of this adorable picture:
Nic Deslauriers meets with his daughter Madison at Rope Line during intermission. (@joshuajezioro) #NYIvsBUF pic.twitter.com/RyCnO6EF6R— Buffalo Sabres (@BuffaloSabres) December 28, 2014
Speaking of Deslauriers, his breakout pass to Zemgus Girgensons led to the Sabres second goal four minutes later. The goal came just at the start of an Islanders powerplay given thanks to a goalie interference call that was a clear dive on the replay. The goal was the weakest that Poulin allowed, as Girgensons was at the faceoff dot when he took the shot. With his tenth goal Zemgus is the first Sabre to enter the double digits in scoring. It was also his second shorthanded goal of the season.
The comeback was complete two minutes later when Chris Stewart deked around Poulin to sneak the puck between his legs. It was redemption for Stewart, who had earned the ire from fans after taking a roughing penalty after time expired in the first.
Nolan was asked if he thought about sitting Stewart after the play, but said he actually felt the opposite. Cal Clutterbuck apparently had it coming. Stewart's goal extends his point streak to four games (2+2).
When an entertaining overtime period yielded no goals, two of the best teams at shootouts prepared to show off their skills. Jhonas Enroth continued to play like one of the best shootout goalies in the league and stopped all three shots, while Tyler Ennis scored the lone goal for Buffalo to help the Sabres skate off to a standing ovation.
This was the first time the Islanders have lost in overtime or a shootout all season, and were the only team to last this long. That's a pretty amazing streak.
Would the Sabres have come back if Poulin wasn't playing? Probably not. Still, you can't help but enjoy it.
Rasmus Ristolainen left the game with an illness, not an injury, according to Nolan. He says the team will likely recall a defenseman from Rochester.
1. How will the returning players look?
Mike Weber looked like a pylon on Tavares' first goal, as the former first overall pick deked him out of his socks. Matt Moulson failed to get on the scoresheet, but the GEM line did create opportunities tonight. Cody McCormick was Cody McCormick.
2. Will the Sabres be able to take advantage of another backup goalie?
Absolutely. The Sabres had six shots in the third period. They scored three goals.
3. Will the Sabres listed fourth line get more time than their third?
They did, but on average played only about a minute of two more. Johan Larsson played the least of any Sabre besides the early-exiting Ristolainen. Kaleta played just over 11 minutes and McCormick just over 12. When it came to the "fourth line," Stewart led the way with 14 minutes, while Grigorenko and Hodgson each had about 12 and a half minutes.