After a euphoric overtime win on Friday night in Ottawa, and a .500 record within reach, the Islanders left an important point on the table in a 4-3 shootout loss to the Buffalo Sabres Saturday night at Nassau Coliseum.
“We knew it was going to be a tough weekend,” Al Montoya said after the loss. “[There were] huge points on the line. It’s unfortunate that we couldn’t come out with two points.”
Brad Boyes and Jason Pominville both scored low shots in the shootout, with Boyes netting the game-decider. PA Parenteau and Frans Nielsen, the Islanders shootout specialists, were unable to find the twine.
The Islanders held a 3-1 lead after the first period before allowing Buffalo to claw their way back into the game. In overtime, the Sabres bench took a sloppy penalty for too many men at 2:28 giving the Isles a power play and a chance to win the game. They could not convert with the man advantage.
“We had the lead, but we didn’t play a great game,” Captain Mark Streit said. “We had the [overtime] power play, we had lots of scoring chances. Sometimes he [Ryan Miller] didn’t even see the puck coming it just hit him, but credit to him. He played a really good game.”
The Islanders got to Miller early, netting three goals on eight shots. Nielsen, who had a three-point night, opened the scoring by finishing a Michael Grabner feed at 1:39 of the first period. Nielsen had a hand in Josh Bailey’s sixth goal of the season at 16:00 and then buried his second goal 1:17 later to put the Isles up 3-1.
“I was hoping that we would show up and play better than we did after winning yesterday,” Nielsen said. “We were lucky to be up 3-1. We can’t just sit back when we have the lead.”
Nathan Gerbe got the Sabres on the board at 5:32 of the first period, firing a wrist shot that Al Montoya was only able to partially block. Montoya, who had 16 saves in the first period, lost sight of the puck as it hit his shoulder and floated into the net.
Derek Roy ended his seven-game scoring drought with his 10th goal and put the Sabres within one with 1:19 remaining in the second period. Paul Gaustad eventually completed the comeback at 11:46 of the third period. Miller, who was shaky in the first period, finished the game strong, stopping 35-of-38, including nine in the overtime.
“He’s a world-class goaltender,” Matt Martin said. “He’s going to find ways to win hockey games for them. He did his part.”
There was a scary scene during the third period as Travis Hamonic took a deflected Christian Erhoff slap-shot to the face. Hamonic stayed down on the ice before leaving the game. Jack Capuano said post-game that Hamonic was taken to the hospital for further evaluation.
After two games in two nights, the Islanders don’t play again until Tuesday, as they take on the Philadelphia Flyers at Wells Fargo Center. The game gets under way at 7 p.m.
****UPDATE 1:30 P.M. SUNDAY: Travis Hamonic needed stiches and required surger to repair his broken nose. He is expected to miss two weeks.