Sabres drop preseason finale to Islanders


The Sabres dropped the final game of the preseason to the Islanders on Friday night by a score of 3-1. The Sabres’ roster, featuring a number of regular-season starters, were physical throughout the game but struggled to get pucks to the net as they only recorded 21 shots in 60 minutes of play, with the majority coming in the final frame.

After allowing the Islanders to capitalize on an odd-man rush in the first period with a goal from Anders Lee, the Sabres didn’t respond until the following period. The second period brought more intensity from the Sabres, but only allowed for one goal by Sam Reinhart off a blast from one knee in the slot.

The Islanders would soon regain their lead and add an empty net goal at the end to close the game. The lone bright spot for the offense came from Reinhart’s goal, with assists from Johan Larsson and newly-acquired forward, Jordan Nolan.

Buffalo’s defense played well, only allowing two goals with Robin Lehner in net and doing a nice job of making clean breakout passes and stopping zone entry in the neutral zone. Buffalo played with a physical edge, rarely hesitating to finish checks when appropriate. While the defense did not have a bad game, changes are still to be made before the season opener, including integrating Marco Scandella to the top pairing with Rasmus Ristolainen.

The offense seem to struggle as even the top line, consisting of Evander Kane, Jack Eichel and Jason Pominville, could not generate many scoring chances. Reinhart had a good night at center, proving that he is capable of playing in any situation during the year.

The Sabres did not have a full lineup on the front end, but did get a good look at players such as Jacob Josefson and Seth Griffith, who both had decent games, but nothing spectacular. Griffith was undoubtedly the best bubble player on the Sabres’ team this evening. 

“Give the Islanders credit. But at the same time, I think we passed up way too many opportunities to shoot at the net.” – Phil Housley

Although the Sabres lost the well-fought contest, they showed their defensive capabilities and proved that the renovated defense is capable to holding teams to a reasonable amount of goals. Lehner also had a good game, only allowing two goals on 21 shots. The offense, however, must make improvements if the Sabres wish to be successful in the regular season.

As the loss closes out a less than ideal preseason, rosters will be finalized within the next few days as players will secure spots on a young Sabres team. The front office has decisions to make regarding the roster, while the team must seek to improve their power play as they went 0-for-20 in the preseason with the man advantage.

The Sabres take on the Montreal Canadians in the regular season opener on October 5, at KeyBank Center.