Postgame 3/15/14: Islanders defeat Sabres 4-1

After a tough loss last night to the Sharks, 24 hours later the Islanders returned to Coliseum ice for only the 2nd match up of the season with the Buffalo Sabres. It has been 5 months since these two teams met that has featured a lot of changes over that span. This game marked the first trip back to Long Island for Sabres head coach Ted Nolan who coached the Islanders from 2006-2008. Nolan told reporters prior to the game he was excited to return and appreciated the opportunity to coach the team.

For the game itself, Anders Nilsson was in goal for the Islanders after Evgeni Nabokov started last night and for the Sabres it was Jonas Enroth in goal. The Islanders came out playing strong early on and almost 4 minutes into the game it was Frans Nielsen who continues his strong play scoring his 22nd goal of the season. Producing on the play was Anders Lee with an assist and he keeps bringing the consistency every night since the recall from the AHL as chemistry is building on this new top line with he, Nielsen, and Kyle Okposo. This group produced again late in the period on the power play and it was Okposo scoring his 27th goal of the season giving the Isles a 2-0 into the intermission. The goal and assist for Okposo moved him to 4th in the NHL in scoring.

A quiet 2nd period with little action on both ends but throughout the night featured strong play in the defensive zone and great goaltending by Anders Nilsson. He made a few big saves and kept the Islanders lead in hand as they never trailed through the night. The 3rd period saw the Sabres break the zero off the scoreboard and it was Tyler Ennis connecting on the power play to cut the lead in half. The Islanders with their share of holding 2 goal leads this season didn’t let that affect them tonight as 39 seconds later, Ryan Strome scored his 4th of the year to extend the lead to 3-1. Despite 7 penalties on the night, the Islanders did the job on the penalty kill and held onto the lead. Cal Clutterbuck sealed the deal with an empty net goal for the victory.

The Islanders next take on the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday night at home and they welcome back to Long Island Matt Moulson and Nino Niederreiter. Moulson was traded to the Wild at the trade deadline from the Sabres and Niederreiter was traded last summer for Clutterbuck.

-John Santamaria

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