A trio of goals in the third period and a perfect performance by Jhonas Enroth in the shootout capped the Sabres’ improbable comeback as they defeated the Islanders by a 4-3 score Saturday night at the First Niagara Center.
A game in which the Islanders seemed to have in control, including a 3-0 lead after 40 minutes of play, quickly changed in the third period, when the Sabres rallied for three straight goals in a span of 5:12.
Zemgus Girgensons scored his 10th goal of the season, shorthanded, to bring the Sabres within one and Chris Stewart knotted it up with just over eight minutes remaining in regulation.
“You could feel it in the air,” Chris Stewart said. The comeback was happening. The energy was incredible.”
Stewart also said that it was the loudest he heard the arena, after he had scored the game-tying goal, which extended his point streak to four games (2 G, 2 A).
Enroth stopped all three shots he faced and Tyler Ennis was the lone scorer in the shootout. Enroth improves to 5-0 in shootouts this year, allowing one goal on 21 shots faced.
It was the first time the Sabres won a game after trailing by three or more goals since they since they did it in April 2012 in a 6-5 win over the Maple Leafs. The Sabres overcame a 3-0 third period deficit for just the second time in franchise history. The other time was April of 2003 against the Atlanta Thrashers.
“Our fans I think are the greatest in the league, we were very appreciative of the standing ovation at the end of the game,” said Ted Nolan.
John Tavares scored a pair scored a pair of goals for the Islanders, but couldn’t tie it up in the shootout as Enroth made a pad save right on the goal line.
After being called up from the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, goaltender Kevin Poulin earned a tough loss in his NHL season debut. Poulin stopped 23 of 26 shots he faced in the game.
Nicolas Deslauriers broke the shutout early in the third period with a shot past Poulin. The goal gives him a three game point streak (2 G, 1 A).
Nick Leddy’s shot from the point beat Jhonas Enroth on the right side, giving the Islanders an early 1-0 lead just four and a half minutes into the game.
Rasmus Ristolainen left the game and did not return. The Sabres may have to call up a defenseman for their next game.
“Ristolainen was sick, didn’t have the energy to keep going,” Nolan said. It’s kind of going around our whole team right now.”
The Sabres will play their next three games against division foes. Buffalo will head to Ottawa for a meeting against the Senators on Monday night. That game is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. and can be seen on MSG.