The Buffalo Sabres came up short in matinee affair against the New York Islanders on Saturday, losing 3-2 in overtime. The Sabres, however, battled hard to gain a point in the standings.
The winning goal came off the stick of Anthony Beauvillier as he stormed down the ice on a breakaway and beat Sabres net-minder Linus Ullmark. The play developed after a Jack Eichel pass was tipped by Brock Nelson, propelling Beauvillier down the ice for the winning goal.
Even though that play came off an Eichel turnover, no one can fault Jack’s performance throughout the rest of the game. He was the driving force of the Sabres offense, extending his points-streak to a lead-leading 16 games.
Jack netted the game-tying goal with 1:46 left in the final frame. A foolish Mathew Barzal roughing penalty on Rasmus Dahlin lead to the power-play opportunity with 3:33 to go. After a mad scramble in front of the net Eichel ripped a backhand shot past Semyon Varlamov to tie the game at two.
The game was close throughout, with the Islanders showcasing why they are one of the top teams in the league.
They opened the scoring 5:11 into the first period on a somewhat mental mistake my Ullmark. Rather than covering the puck for a stoppage in play, he kept it moving which lead to the Sabres turning it over in the defensive zone. Beauvillier found Michael Dal Colle alone in the slot, scoring his second goal of the season.
Buffalo responded with a strong second period with the special-teams leading the way.
Sabres’ rookie Victor Olofsson scored his 14th of the year on one of his vintage slap-shots from the top of the circle. Dahlin picked up his second assist in as many games back from his concussion and Eichel was credited with one as well – extending his points-streak.
The lowly penalty-kill showed up surprisingly strong as well as killing off three consecutive penalties, a lot of which were questionable.
A hooking call on Rasmus Ristolainen was called unquestionably late and only after the crowd seemingly made their plea for it. Marcus Johansson was also called for an interference penalty, similar to one called on the Sweden trip where a strong case could have been made for incidental contact.
A lot of non-calls didn’t go Buffalo’s way either, but they still persevered going two for two with the man-advantage and killing off all four of the Islander’s power-plays.
Ullmark played extremely well once again, making 23 saves and solidifying his spot as the Sabres’ number one goalie.
The Islanders’ second goal was one he might want back. Jordan Eberle’s shot from the slot was pretty soft and barely left the ice, deceiving Ullmark on the play. However, the inability of the Sabres’ defense to clear the zone is the more likely culprit for the goal.
With the loser point in overtime, the Sabres jumped to 39 points on the season, now sporting a record of 16-11-7. They sit in second place in the division only seven points behind the Boston Bruins.
The Sabres play next on Tuesday night at 7 p.m. against their divisional foe the Toronto Maple Leafs. The game is at Scotiabank Arena and will be televised on NBCSN.