The Sabres are showing improvement. After a slow start, they’ve won three of four. Buffalo posted their second straight win Sunday night when they came back to defeat the Islanders 2-1 at Barclays Center.
Linus Ullmark won his second consecutive start finishing with 30 saves. In wins over the Flyers and Islanders, he’s allowed two goals on 58 shots. The Islanders were without captain John Tavares for a second game in a row due to illness. They lost to the Devils in a shootout on Halloween.
The Isles out-shot the Sabres 23-12 through the first two periods. Defenseman Calvin de Haan staked them to a 1-0 lead when his turnaround shot got through a maze of traffic in front of Ullmark at 13:42 of the second. A relentless attack forced Ullmark into some difficult stops. Eventually, de Haan recovered a loose puck from Cal Clutterbuck and fired home his first. It was the only offense the Brooklyn hosts got.
Showing composure, the Sabres dug out of a one-goal hole scoring twice in the third to post a good road win. Even if Barclays Center isn’t drawing the way management envisioned due to ridiculous costs and obstructed views, it was still impressive for a rebuilding team.
”You go out and win a game in the third period,” Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said. ”You don’t see that often on the road in the National Hockey League.”
The goals came from Matt Moulson and Sam Reinhart. Playing a better period, the Sabres scored twice on 10 shots while Ullmark turned aside all seven Islander shots. Moulson was able to knot the game when he converted at the doorstep from Zemgus Girgensons at 6:20. Brian Gionta intercepted a pass and sent Girgensons in on a 2-on-1. His pass across was stopped by Moulson’s skate. The ex-Islander then got his stick on the puck and stuffed it past New York backup Thomas Greiss.
Reinhart notched the winner when he converted off a nice feed from David Legwand. After a strong defensive play from Jamie McGinn, Legwand came in 2-on-1 and dished across for a cutting Reinhart who sent a wrist shot top shelf with 6:16 remaining.
”It’s amazing what a couple of big saves can do,” Reinhart said in regards to Ullmark after scoring his second of the season for the game-winner. ”It can turn two losses into two wins just like that. He’s been great.”
The result could’ve been different for the Islanders. Leading 1-0 early in the third, Kyle Okposo had a long slap shot ring off the crossbar. Had that gone in, perhaps it’s a better result.
”Frustrating,” Okposo lamented after the Isles fell to 6-3-3. ”We want to perform.”
”Some of the young guys were just very disappointing,” Isles coach Jack Capuano said. ”They have to step their game up.
”Some guys were just too casual. Sunday game, casual. And you’re not going to win many games like that.”
The Eichel Report: Rookie Jack Eichel finished with four shot attempts and a minus-one rating in 19 shifts (16:07). In 12 games, he has four goals. All scored on home ice including the first one in a 3-1 win over the Flyers on All Hallow’s Eve. He could easily have more production with a dominant performance in a recent 4-3 loss to the Penguins in which he totaled eight shots and 11 shot attempts. It’s a matter of time.