Brock Nelson helped the New York Islanders end their 2013-14 season on a winning note, scoring the tying goal late in the third period and the game-decider in the shootout of a 4-3 win over the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday night at First Niagara Center.
Anders Nilsson turned aside all three Sabres shooters in the breakaway competition, as the Islanders rallied from a pair of deficits for their third straight win to end the season.
“These guys battled and got three wins on the road trip,” head coach Jack Capuano said. “I told them after the game I was proud of the way they battled for one another and there will be a lot of healthy competition moving forward.”
Anders Lee (two goals), Frans Nielsen and Josh Bailey (two assists each) dug the Islanders out of an early 2-0 deficit. Lee put the Islanders comeback in motion with a power-play goal in the final four minutes of the second period, crashing the net hard before banging a loose puck past Knapp.
The Islanders rookie then tied the score 17 seconds into the third period, beating Knapp with a backhander from the left faceoff dot. The off-speed shot fooled the Sabres goaltender before catching the far side of the net.
“You always want to end on a good note,” Lee said. “It was just a good road win. We played pretty simple for the last 40 minutes. That helped us get going because we were pretty sluggish to start.”
Torrey Mitchell had put the Sabres ahead 3-2 midway through the third period with a deflection past Nilsson. Then, with four minutes to play in the frame, Nelson gloved a puck in the neutral zone, skated into the Sabres zone and snapped a high shot past Connor Knapp’s glove to force overtime.
“I tried to use their d-man as a screen,” Nelson said. “[Evgeni Nabokov] always bugs me to shoot high glove and to shoot it hard. That was one of those times that it went in.”
Nilsson made 36 saves, including a huge skate save on Tyler Ennis during a wraparound opportunity. The win was Nilsson’s third in a row.
The game further cemented the Islanders' solid second-half road record, as the Isles posted their 17th road win in 24 tries. The Islanders finished the season with a 21-18-2 road record.
NOTES: Frans Nielsen set a career-high with his 33rd assist on Sunday, establishing new highs in goals (25), assists and points (58) this season… Josh Bailey also set career highs in assists (30) and points (38)… Travis Hamonic led the Islanders with 27:35 TOI.