Buffalo’s inability to capitalize on a late power play turned out to be the deciding factor in a 2-1 loss to the New York Islanders at First Niagara Center on Tuesday.
Down by a goal in the third period, the Sabres were handed a glorious opportunity to the even the score when Mark Streit and Josh Bailey took minor penalties 26 seconds apart to put the Islanders two men down. The Sabres were only able to muster one shot during the two-man advantage.
Lindy Ruff said it came down to one thing on the power play.
“I thought we didn’t show quite enough composure. We tried to move it around, and I think Christian felt he had a lane to get it to the net right off the bat. But he blew two shots right into their one defenseman.”
The Sabres had several chances in the third period to even the score, but Al Montoya stood tall in the Islanders net. Buffalo’s best scoring chance came on a pass from Marc-Andre Gragnani to a wide open Ville Leino at the right side of the Islanders crease – that Leino missed altogether.
“We missed a couple of beauties,” said Ruff. “Even on the five-on-three we missed a couple. Then right afterwards, the Leino opportunity. When you miss those, they’ll come back to bite you.”
New York opened the scoring 6:47 into the game when Matt Moulson tipped Streit’s point shot past Enroth. After a scoreless second period, Jochen Hecht tied the score 1:54 into the third. New York took the lead for good just under eight minutes later as Brian Rolston picked up a loose puck in front and tucked it behind Enroth.
“We did a good job getting ourselves back into the game, but we kind of let up a goal we don’t want to give up,” explained Jason Pominville. “The bottom line is we’ve got to work for 60 minutes and dig deep. Once we get back into the game, we can’t give up the goal we gave up.”
Buffalo outshot New York 31-30, including a 15-shot barrage in the third.
Jordan Leopold left the game with an upper body injury after playing eight shifts in the first period. He will be evaluated further on Wednesday.
With the Sabres down to five defensemen, Christian Ehrhoff had a career-high 32:48 of ice time – averaging 1:12 during his 27 shifts.
The Sabres dropped to 13-10-1 on the season, and are now 6-7-1 at home. The Islanders are 7-11-4, and have now won two straight for just the second time this season.
NOTES: Patrick Kaleta was a late scratch, missing his fourth straight game with a lower body injury … Paul Szczechura was recalled this afternoon from Rochester to take Kaleta’s spot in the lineup, and he skated 13:18 and took one shot while playing on a line with Leino and Luke Adam.
6:45 - Welcome to the First Niagara Center in Buffalo, NY!
6:45 - We are 20 minutes from puck drop between the Sabres and Islanders.
6:46 - Patrick Kaleta was not on the ice for warmups, and will be replaced in the lineup tonight by Paul Szczechura
6:56 - BUF starters: Stafford/Gaustad/Ellis, Leopold/Sekera, Enroth
6:56 - BUF scratches: Kaleta
6:57 - NYI starters: Parenteau/Moulson/Tavares, Hamonic/MacDonald, Montoya
6:58 - NYI scratches: Haley, Pandolfo
7:08 - And away we go!
7:10 - Crunch! McNabb says hello to Brian Rolston with a solid blast along the boards
7:12 - Adam drops a shot on Montoya that he catches with his shoulder
7:13 - Another solid shift for Leino who's played his best hockey of the year over the past 2 weeks. It may not be reflected on the scoresheet but his contributions down low get more pronounced every night
7:16 - Szczechura off for high sticking - Isles on the PP
7:18 - NYI 1-0: Tavares tips the point shot by Streit, and it gets roofed past Enroth.
7:19 - Islanders only average 1.95 goals per game, so they're almost maxed out at this point.
7:21 - Szczechura fitting in well on a line with Adam and Leino.
7:23 - Sabres head to the PP with 11:08 left in the 1st. Mottau gets the gate for NY after slashing Szczechura's stick to itty bitty pieces
7:23 - OK, I'm already tired of typing "Szczechura." From now on he'll be known simply as "Paul" in my blogs
7:25 - Grabner must've been caught by sniper fire or he tripped over the red line on a near breakaway attempt.
7:28 - Streit was announced as the Isles goal scorer, but I'm positive Tavares tipped it. Absolutely positively 100% freaking positive.
7:33 - Gerbe gets rocked over the boards by Niederreiter. Kassian then endears himself even more to Buffalo fans by going toe-to-toe with Isles tough guy Matt Martin.
7:34 - I think even Rob Ray was smiling as Kassian's jersey came off during the scrap. The crowd just cheered when Kassian's penalty was announced. The kid is gold right now.
7:35 - Niederreiter was given an interference penalty on the play; Sabres on the PP
7:36 - By the way, Niederreiter is now known as "Nino." If you can't tell, I'm in a nasty mood tonight.
7:37 - Pominville grabs at Tavares, and gets called for holding.
7:42 - Vanek with a sneaky move to get past Streit, and nearly has the puck dribble past Montoya.
7:44 - End of 1: Isles lead 1-0, but Buffalo holds an 8-6 lead in shots.
8:01 - Gaustad was a perfect 4-0 on faceoffs in the 1st period. Sabres up 10-8 overall.
8:01 - Game on!
8:03 - Moulson now credited with NY's first goal. So I was wrong. It happens. Just not very often.
8:10 - After a few shaky outings, Luke Adam is back to playing big again. The 2-goal outing on Saturday was well-timed boost to his confidence
8:10 - Kick save and a beauty by Enroth!
8:12 - From the file of Things Not to Do When Playing Hockey: Reasoner with the head-first shot block attempt on Sekera.
8:15 - 11:00 left in the 2nd, and we're still stuck at 1-0 Islanders. Plenty of chances, but not many good scoring opportunities.
8:19 - Goodnight! McNabb flattens Frans Nielsen with a thunderous bodycheck. I felt the vibrations up here!
8:22 - Leopold not on the Sabres bench.
8:23 - Kassian nearly splits the Isles D like a hot knife through butter, but loses the puck at the last second.
8:24 - Enroth catches the Tavares shot up on the shoulder, spins it back into the corner
8:25 - Vanek is just toying with the Islanders tonight. He's like that really good guy on your beer league team that can score at will and dangle like there's no tomorrow.
8:30 - Kassian gets called for intereference. Not even close. He's a big guy who got in the way. Get used to it NHL.
8:32 - With 1.2 ticks left, Enroth reaches back and saves a sure goal from crossing the goal line.
8:32 - That's all she wrote for the 2nd -- Isles still up 1-0. New York outshoots Buffalo 12-8 in that period to take an overall 18-16 lead.
8:43 - Injury update: Jordan Leopold - upper body injury, will not return. He did not play at all in the 2nd period.
8:49 - Game on for period 3!
8:50 - Sabres are 1-8-0 when trailing after 2; NY is 4-0-3 when leading after 2
8:52 - Buffalo's only win when trailing after the 2nd: Nov 14 @ MTL. They were down 2-0 after 2, then won 3-2 in SO
8:52 - GOAL!
8:53 - 1-1: Vanek's centering pass to Pominville gets tipped right to Hecht who makes no mistake from 10 feet. (1:54)
8:53 - Vanek and Pominville with the assists on Hecht's 2nd of the year
9:00 - Good shift for the Leino/Adam/Paul line. Creating some chances down low once again.
9:02 - Great play by Tavares, but an even better save by Enroth to somehow keep the puck out of the net. Very impressed with Tavares' skating tonight.
9:06 - Luke Adam saves the day, sweeping the puck right off the goal line.
9:06 - NYI 2-1: Brian Rolston picks up the loose puck in front and slides it past Enroth to put the Isles up by 1
9:11 - 9:18 left in the 3rd. Sabres outshooting NY 11-8 so far, but down by a goal.
9:11 - Sabres on the PP - Streit called for hooking. In some countries, that's actually illegal.
9:12 - Josh Bailey trips Ehrhoff along the boards, giving Buffalo a 5-on-3 for the next 1:34. Sabres use their timeout to prepare for this PP.
9:14 - Hamonic catches that Ehrhoff slapper right in the midsection. Ouch. Wonder if the BPO has any use for a soprano?
9:15 - Vanek can't connect on Pominville's pass through the crease ... then Roy lifts a shot over the net
9:16 - Pominville fires a dart from the faceoff circle but Montoya doesn't budge
9:21 - 4:25 left in the 3rd
9:24 - Grabner plays pickpocket at center ice, but airmails his shot on the breakaway attempt
9:24 - Leino with the WIDE open cage at the side of the net ... but can't get a shot off.
9:26 - Last minute..
9:26 - Enroth on the bench
9:28 - FINAL: NYI 2 -- BUF 1