Scoring 1st 2nd 3rd Total Sabres 1 1 1 3 Rangers 0 0 2 2
Robin Lehner made 31 saves, Anthony Beauvillier potted two goals, and the New York Islanders stamped their ticket to the postseason tonight, all in a 5-1 win over the Sabres from Uniondale, NY.
The Sabres were hemmed in their own defensive zone for a significant portion of the first two periods, and several of the Islander’s goals were direct end-results of said pressure.
Beauvillier’s first goal of the night, which turned out to be the game-winner was a product of that great cycle play. Devon Toews danced back into the Sabres end while five tired Buffalo defenders tried to either stick-check him or get into the shooting lane. Toews dished the puck to Beauvillier at the blue line, and he raced and fired a shot that deflected off of Lawerence Pilut and into the back of the net for a 2-0 Islanders lead.
Per. Time EV Goal Assist Assist 1 10:26 Zemgus Girgensons (10) Colin Miller (8) --- 2 15:16 Sam Reinhart (20) Jack Eichel (36) Jimmy Vesey (9) 3 11:56 Jimmy Vesey (8) Jack Eichel (37) --- 3 17:07 Mika Zibanejad (22) Artemi Panarin (45) Marc Staal (6) 3 18:22 PPG Chris Kreider (20) Kaapo Kakko (11) Mika Zibanejad (25)
The shot stats may not show this, but despite only being outshot 38-32 in the game, the Sabres were thoroughly out-classed in all aspects of the offensive game through cycle plays and general hustle in the zone, which kept Buffalo on their heels all evening long.
The lone goal for the Sabres came from a nifty Victor Olofsson shot on the power play. Jack Eichel did a terrific job, knocking a clearing attempt down out of mid-air, and feeding Olofsson at the top of the circle. Olofsson drifted to the right side of the net and wired a blistering wrister to the opposite side with a shot no one was going to stop to put the Sabres on the board.
— Buffalo Hockey moments (@SabresPlays) March 31, 2019
Carter Hutton made 33 saves on 38 Islander offerings on the night. The loss definitely can’t be hung on Hutton, as he was routinely hung out to dry by poor defensive zone coverage. He was even forced to face a penalty shot in the first period and managed to stop the aforementioned Beauvillier on the try. Indeed, there were some weak goals, such as Ryan Pulock’s wrister that beat him to the five-hole early in the third period. All in all, though, there’s not much more he could have done with the effort in front of him.
Lehner may have faced 32 shots tonight, but aside from a handful, none really tested him thoroughly, as Buffalo was often in a “one and done” mindset of offense. Though, give Lehner credit for making the saves he was expected to, and leading this Islanders squad back to the playoffs.
Up next for the Sabres, a quick turnaround, as they’ll face the Columbus Blue Jackets at KeyBank Center on Sunday evening. Puck drop is scheduled for 6:00 P.M.