Sabres flat in return

A 15-day break from their last game proved to be more detrimental than helpful for the Sabres, as they dropped their first game back since the team’s last contest against the New Jersey Devils, which started their weeks-long COVID debacle. Their opponent, the New York Islanders, would ultimately go on to take the game by a score of 3-1.

The Sabres were without some key faces in the lineup, especially on the blue line. The defense pairings were comprised of a mismatch of players, including Brandon Davidson, Matt Irwin, William Borgen, and Steven Fogarty. Not exactly NHL regulars, by any stretch of the imagination.

116:37Anders Lee (5)Josh Bailey (4)Mathew Barzal (9)
118:21J.G. Pageau (5)Nick Leddy (6)Scott Mayfield (2)
21:40PPGVictor Olofsson (5)Rasmus Dahlin (3)Sam Reinhart (4)
29:49PPGBrock Nelson (3)Josh Bailey (5)Oliver Wahlstrom (1)

Looking to cover some ground in the East Division standings, the Sabres started the game trading chances and offensive zone time with the Islanders and looked to have their feet under them out of the gate.

They would go down in the opening frame, though, as Isles captain Anders Lee deflected a shot that beat Ullmark to put the visitors up 1-0.

Victor Olofsson, who started the game skating on a line with Jack Eichel and Jeff Skinner, was robbed of a golden one-timer opportunity by Semyon Varlamov later in the first, which ended up being the biggest save of the game.

The Islanders struck again in the waning minutes of the first, this time JG Pageau ripping one short side on Ullmark as Rasmus Dahlin gave him the time and space to take the shot.

The second period started with a Sabres power play opportunity thanks to Skinner drawing the tripping call after trying to skate through a pair of Islanders defenders, and the Sabres did not waste the chance. Olofsson redeemed himself and put a one timer past Varlamov from his wheelhouse in the right faceoff circle to bring the Sabres within a goal.

Dahlin and Sam Reinhart recorded assists on the goal.

That narrow margin wouldn’t last long, though, as Brock Nelson helped the Islanders go up 3-1. The score would stay the same heading into the third period.

The final frame didn’t provide much to tell, as the Sabres did not record a single shot on goal for the entire final 20 minutes of the game. This game marked the first time the Sabres went a full period without a single shot since 2011.

The Sabres are right back at it again for the second half of this back-to-back against the Islanders and look to cool down what has been an extremely hot team of late. The Islanders are riding a seven-game points streak, and have won four of their last five contests. The Sabres, on the other hand, are desperate to right this ship before the points gap in the standings begins to widen too drastically.

The key to the rematch will be to put the pressure on and take some shots – a repeat of the first game will not be enough.

Brandon Seltenrich
Goalie from San Francisco currently studying toward a Bachelor of Science in Sport Management at Canisius College. Founder of and host of the Puck SKLS Podcast. Avid hockey writer, podcaster, and statistician in the Buffalo area.
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