Islanders-Sabres Preview

Angry and bitter, the New York Islanders got some retribution,

another win and a boatload of penalties in their last contest.

It’s cost them quite a bit.

Coming off a record-breaking performance for unruliness followed

by a heavy punishment from the NHL, the Islanders visit the surging

Buffalo Sabres on Sunday.

New York (19-29-7) earned its second straight win Friday,

beating Pittsburgh 9-3 at home. It was the Islanders’ best

offensive showing of the season, but the game will be remembered

more for a litany of brawls and penalties, as both clubs set

franchise records.

They combined for 65 penalties, 346 minutes, 10 ejections, 15

fighting majors and 20 misconducts, as the Islanders sought revenge

for losing goaltender Rick DiPietro (facial fractures) and left

wing Blake Comeau (concussion) during a 3-0 loss at Pittsburgh on

Feb. 2.

The Isles, who have been without both players since, got some

satisfaction from taking out their anger on the Penguins to the

tune of 183 penalty minutes.

“It was a pretty entertaining affair, and we’ll take the two

points,” said Islanders center John Tavares. “I’ve never seen

anything like that before. It just wouldn’t stop. But it just shows

that we’ll do anything for each other.”

Late Saturday night, the NHL suspended Islanders forwards Trevor

Gillies for nine games, Matt Martin for four and levied a $100,000

fine against the team.

“The actions by the Islanders’ Gillies and Martin were

deliberate attempts to injure by delivering blows to the head of

players who were unsuspecting and unable to defend themselves,”

league disciplinarian Colin Campbell said, adding that the club

failed to control its players.

Tavares, who drew only a slashing penalty during the

fight-filled contest, has two goals and seven assists over his last

six games. His 20 goals are four shy of the total from his 2009-10

rookie season, and he’s accumulated five goals and four assists in

seven career meetings with Buffalo (26-22-5).

Mikko Koskinen is likely to make a fourth consecutive start in

net after making 35 saves against Pittsburgh, one night after

stopping 37 shots through overtime and three more in the shootout

of a 4-3 win at Montreal.

“Seems like he just gets more and more confident with each

period,” left wing Matt Moulson told the Islanders’ official

website.

Moulson matched his season high with three points Friday. Facing

the Sabres could mean he’s in line for another strong showing, as

he has three goals and three assists in three games versus Buffalo

this season.

“I warned our team that I think (the Islanders) are a good

offensive team, that they have some really good, young, talented

forwards,” Sabres coach Lindy Ruff told the team’s official

website. “We saw it in the games that we’ve played them. They have

good team speed.”

New York has taken two of three meetings between these clubs in

2010-11, all of which took place in January and all of which were

won by the home team. The Islanders and Sabres split a

home-and-home set Jan. 21 and 23.

Those contests are part of Buffalo’s current 7-2-0 surge. Tyler

Myers gave the Sabres their season-high third straight win Thursday

when he scored with five seconds left in overtime to beat Florida

3-2 on the road.

Thomas Vanek has four goals and three assists during the winning

streak. The left wing has four goals and six assists in his last 10

home games versus the Islanders.

Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller made 24 saves Thursday to improve to

7-1-0 with a 2.53 goals-against average in his last nine games.