Sabres Prevail in Joust With Isles

Colin McDonald scored his first goal as an Islander, but the Isles skated away with yet another loss on home ice, this time to Buffalo. (Photo: 5of7/flickr)

The post was not the Islanders’ — or rather, John Tavares’s — friend tonight.

After being taken down by Christian Ehrhoff, earning himself a penalty shot, the Isles center skated in and brought Ryan Miller down on his pads; however, his backhand attempt hit the right pipe. That goal would have been his second goal of the night and tied the game at three, taking the Islanders to overtime with the Sabres. Instead, it was his second goal post.

And instead, Buffalo skated to a 3-2 victory at Nassau Coliseum despite being outshot by over a 3:1 margin. Defenseman Alexander Sulzer scored the game-winner on a give-and-go with Steve Ott, taking a slap shot that deflected off of Evgeni Nabokov’s shoulder and over the goal line. That goal finally secured the win for the Sabres, who never trailed in this game.

Credit the top and third lines with keeping the Islanders in it — Tavares’s wrap-around goal made it a 1-1 game after Thomas Vanek scored his 11th of the year, and Casey Cizikas did some excellent work behind the net and fed it to Colin McDonald for his first goal as an Islander, making it 2-all.

But the Isles would fall victim to their own shoddy defense — giving Jordan Leopold way too much room to make a play on the Vanek goal, not managing the puck well at all in their own end and failing to clear bodies from in front of their goalie — and for as many shots as they took, only a handful of them really tested Ryan Miller (41 saves) all that much. Many of them hit him right in the crest or were seen all the way (or both).

At least Lubomir Visnovsky fared well in his Isles debut. Vis was a +2 with three shots on net, logging considerable ice time (around 20 minutes). Also, leading the Isles with seven shots was Josh Bailey, back from injury. The Cizikas line made the most of their ice time, combining for a goal, and Brian Strait was surprisingly good offensively tonight, with two assists.

Meanwhile, in goal… Nabokov looks off. Fatigue could have a lot to do with it, as he’s played every game aside from a 4-2 loss at Boston, but either way he’s been sub-par, which is not something you want your only “worthy” goaltender to be when every point counts. Though the trust in Rick DiPietro might be gone, he actually didn’t look bad against the Bruins. For the sake of giving Nabokov a rest, the coaching staff could at least consider starting him.

I don’t know.

The Isles’ losing streak is now at four, and they’re 1-4-0 at home. They play next against the Carolina Hurricanes at home, on Monday (aka my birthday, so have your presents wrapped and ready for me, please).

Until next time.

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