The New York Islanders secured a point, but let a second slip through their fingers, as they fell to the Buffalo Sabres 4-3 in a shootout Saturday night at First Niagara Center.
The Islanders built a 3-0 lead in the first two periods, but allowed three goals in the third en route to the shootout loss. John Tavares (two goals) and Nick Leddy scored in regulation, but the Islanders went 0-for-3 in the shootout. Buffalo’s Tyler Ennis scored the game decider, as the Islanders dropped their first overtime/shootout game this season (9-1).
“These are two points we should have held,” Tavares said. “Certainly it’s frustrating when you give up a three goal lead like that. Especially because I didn’t think we did a whole lot wrong except for the breakdowns that led to the goals.”
The Islanders jumped out to an early lead, as Leddy scored his sixth of the season at 4:33 of the first period. Kyle Okposo fed Leddy at the point and the defenseman wasted no time getting a half slapper off and past Jhonas Enroth.
The game remained quiet until 11:56 of the second period, when Tavares scored the first of his two goals. The Islanders captain stickhandled in tight, faked a pass to Josh Bailey and roofed a backhander past Enroth.
Tavares buried again 3:09 later, tapping in a cross-crease feed from Bailey.
Bailey and Okposo each had two assists Saturday, as the Islanders top trio all had two-point games.
The Islanders lead evaporated quickly in the third period, as Nicolas Deslauriers, Zemgus Girgensons and Chris Stewart scored in a 5:12 span. Deslauriers put the Sabres on the board at 6:39, beating Kevin Poulin with a one-timer from the slot. Girgensons beat Poulin with a short-handed, short-side goal at 10:10 and Stewart tied the score at 11:51, sliding a backhand through Poulin’s five hole.
“The shorthanded goal obviously was a big one for them and got the crowd into the game,” Capuano said. “Special teams were a big factor. We didn’t get the job done tonight, they did on their end.”
The Islanders and Sabres exchanged end-to-end rushes in overtime, but no goals, sending the game to a shootout. The Islanders were 6-0 in shootouts entering tonight, but the trio of Tavares, Okposo and Frans Nielsen were unable to solve Enroth. Tyler Ennis beat Poulin in the second round for the winner.
“We still had a few opportunities to get that fourth one and we just didn’t get it,” Tavares said.
Poulin, who was called up on emergency basis Saturday morning and stopped 23-of-26 shots in his first game this season. Enroth made 33 saves in the win.
The Islanders return to Nassau Coliseum for a date with the Washington Capitals on Monday night. Puck drop is at 7 p.m.