Taylor Hall scored for the first time since the season opener, but it wasn’t enough for Buffalo to pull off a win.
With every goal scored against them, the Sabres looked more and more defeated. Prior to tonight’s matchup, in the past three games against the Islanders (13-6-4), the Sabres scored three goals combined — they scored twice Thursday night.
|1||10:25||Noah Dobson (2)||Jordan Eberle (5)||Mathew Barzal (12)|
|1||16:21||Matt Martin (3)||Casey Cizikas (4)||Cal Clutterbuck (5)|
|2||3:08||Taylor Hall (2)||Cody Eakin (2)||---|
|2||14:58||Anthony Beauvillier (2)||Brock Nelson (5)||Josh Bailey (11)|
|3||3:14||Jordan Eberle (9)||Anders Lee (6)||---|
|3||7:23||Rasmus Ristolainen (3)||Jack Eichel (14)||Sam Reinhart (8)|
|3||14:28||Matt Martin (4)||Casey Cizikas (5)||---|
Although the Sabres started off on the right foot during the first five minutes of the game, have only scored first in seven out of 21 games. Rasmus Ristolainen had a mishap at the blue line during the Islanders rush to the net, combined with a poorly timed line change from the Sabres, resulting in the Islanders first goal courtesy of Noah Dobson. Six minutes later, Matt Martian brought New York’s lead up to two, with a shot behind the goal line and deflected off of Jonas Johansson.
Hall scored in the second period, off a rebound from Cody Eaken, breaking Ilya Sorokin’s shutout streak.
Ilya Sorokin’s shutout streak ended at 143:08 and was the third-longest stretch by a rookie netminder in @NYIslanders history.— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) March 5, 2021
Glenn Resch's run, which tops the list, also stands as the longest by goaltender in franchise history. #NHLStats pic.twitter.com/KZ35pHrMG6
It wasn’t long before the Islanders made it 3-1, Anthony Beauvillier capitalized on a turnover from Ristolainen. Colin Miller tried to gain some momentum for the Sabes by dropping the gloves with Anders Lee — but unfortunately, it made no difference. Jordan Eberle scored on a rebound off a shot from Lee about about three minutes into the third.
Prior to tonight’s game, Ristolainen admitted to having a hard time bouncing back following his COVID diagnosis — it was pretty evident throughout the game. Although, he did score the second goal for the Sabres on a rebound. Martin scored his second of the game after crashing into the net, bringing the final to 5-2.
“This was completely a COVID lapse,” Head Coach Ralph Krueger said following the game. “He was in bed for more than 14, 17 days. Not just sitting on a couch or walking around, he was in bed in pain. I have to tell you, sadly I expected a dip here. He fought so hard and battled so hard and competed so hard every night. You cannot be mad at that player ever. He’s as honest as it gets and as self-critical as it gets. His situation today was clearly a product of nearly three weeks without any exercise at all. You needed to expect this, but you know what? He’s an amazing physical specimen, and we expect him to bounce back on Saturday.”
Buffalo (6-12-3) was outshot 45-18. Johansson started in net and made a career-high 40 saves.
Ralph Krueger: I don’t believe we need to reinvent our style of play. I think we want to be an attacking team with a strong defense pic.twitter.com/VNqB4fWcz4— Matthew Bové (@Matt_Bove) March 5, 2021
“It’s a dangerous spiral right now,” Krueger said postgame. “I don’t believe we need to reinvent our style of play. I think we want to be an attacking team out of a strong defense. The principles are laid out very clear for everybody to understand. We’re just getting away from them whether that’s mental, fatigue, or a confidence issue.”
“I still believe this is a group that’s trying to fight back and get our game back and be competitive,” Krueger said. “But we’ve got to work smarter moving forward.”
Buffalo has lost five games in a row and are 0-4 against the Islanders this season. Saturday the two teams will meet again at 1 p.m.