While two goals from Matt Moulson helped the Islanders tie the score twice and start the third period with an even slate, it was the slow start that had them chasing from behind and hurt the outcome. In Sunday’s matinee at Nassau Coliseum, the Islanders lost to the Buffalo Sabres 5-3.
A mere 15 seconds into the first, the Sabres were on the board. After the Sabres won the faceoff, they dumped the puck into the Islanders zone, a battle behind the net resulted in a pass from Rob Niedermayer to Michael Grier in the slot. His shot, initially saved by Rick DiPietro, was then knocked in by Paul Gaustad.
“The five guys we sent out to start the game, obviously the compete level was down.” Capuano said. “They beat us off the wall. We weren’t strong on our sticks on that first goal.”
Capuano hopes to cure the bad habit.
“Guys have to be prepared mentally and physically (to start the game),” Capuano said. “They’ve got to be ready to go. Give them credit, they got the puck behind the net – it was a good play – and we lost coverage in front. It’s no different from the goals we scored when they lost coverage. It’s just a situation that we have to be better at.”
While the Islanders were working to tie the score right off the start, they remained scoreless through the first period and needed to battle to tie the score in the second.
Ryan Miller #30 and Tyler Myers #57 of the Buffalo Sabres combine to stop Matt Moulson #26 and P.A. Parenteau #15 of the New York Islanders at the Nassau Coliseum on January 23, 2011 in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Fourteen seconds into the period, the Sabres took a bench minor for delay of game and the Islanders would cash in. PA Parenteau and Frans Nielsen entered the offensive zone with speed, but it was John Tavares who found Moulson in time to crash the net and tie the score at 1:15.
“I think it’s a testament to the guys I play with,” Moulson said about his success. “I don’t have many goals on my own. A lot of them are those two getting it to me. I just try and capitalize on opportunities. Like I said, our line, we have to get this team wins. If it means scoring three or four goals a night, that’s what we have to do.”
Tyler Ennis put the Sabres ahead for the second time when he skated to the paint to score at 4:58.
But Moulson’s second goal of the game would tie the score for a second time. When Tavares began his drive down the ice, he passed to Parenteau. The shot, initially saved by Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller was knocked in by Moulson as he sped to the paint for the rebound.
“Johnny and PA are two easy guys to play with,” Moulson said. “We all want to compete out there, win our battles, and help this team win. It seems like we know where each other are all the time. We enjoy playing with each other. We just have to capitalize on a couple more chances and get this team wins.”
Seventeen shots on net and two gritty Moulson goals later, the Islanders ended the second period on an even playing field and were hoping to earn a win with a big effort in the third period. Unfortunately, Josh Bailey took a double minor penalty for high sticking, which caused the Islanders to start the final period shorthanded.
Paul Byron #24 of the Buffalo Sabres pursues Kyle Okposo #21 of the New York Islanders on January 23, 2011 at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Mike Stobe/NHLI via Getty Images)
As a result, a backhanded pass from Tyler Ennis gave Nathan Gerbe a power play goal at 1:48. And the Sabres stole their third lead of the game. Buffalo took a 4-2 lead at 3:53, when Tyler Myers scored. The referees originally called the play ‘no goal,’ but after a video review, the on-ice ruling was overturned as the puck had clearly crossed the goal line before the whistle.
Defenseman Jack Hillen scored his third goal of the season with a wrist shot from the top of the left faceoff circle at 16:37 of the third period and brought the Islanders within one goal, but Jason Pominville’s empty netter solidified the Sabres win.
With less than two minutes left on the clock, the Islanders were down by just one goal and interim head coach Jack Capuano made the decision to pull DiPietro from the net to take a man advantage. But with the change of lines, the Sabres swept into the offensive zone and Pominville scored with 23 seconds left on the clock to solidify the win.
Even though the Isles gave up the empty netter, Capuano thought the performance of the defensemen in third period was what he expects from his team.
“If we’re going to generate offense, that’s the way that I want us to play,” Capuano said. “You saw it in the third period. We were at the offensive zone down the walls. Our D would join in the rush, and we had quite a few shots and opportunities. That’s the way that we have to play.”
Notes: During the game, someone threw coins on the ice in two separate occasions, once in the second period and once in the third. Fans were given a warning and were asked to point out the culprit and were warned that the Islanders would be given a penalty if it happened again.