The New York Islanders have struggled all season, especially on
Facing the injury-riddled Buffalo Sabres may help create some
New York seeks its fifth win in six tries against Buffalo when
the teams meet Tuesday night at First Niagara Center.
The Islanders (6-11-4), who occupy last place in the Eastern
Conference, were shut out three times during a four-game losing
streak that ended Saturday with a 3-2 win over New Jersey.
The skid marked their third of at least four games on the young
season, and their 41 goals rank last in the league.
Saturday’s win was New York’s first on the road in eight games.
It had not gone winless in its first seven on the road since
starting 0-10 with four ties away from home to begin the 1973-74
Matt Moulson and Josh Bailey scored, while Michael Grabner
netted the game-winner short-handed in the third period.
Coach Jack Capuano was thankful the bounces went the Islanders’
“Our guys battled,” Capuano said. “We did get some breaks
tonight. It takes a few breaks to win a game. I’m just glad they
got the two points.”
They’ve done just that four of the last five times when facing
Buffalo, which is banged up heading into this meeting.
The Sabres (13-9-1) played without nine regulars Saturday, but
they were able to end a three-game skid with a 5-1 win over
Jhonas Enroth made 26 saves and is 3-3-1 with a 2.82
goals-against average in seven starts since Ryan Miller suffered a
concussion Nov. 12 against Boston.
In addition to Miller, Buffalo played without Robyn Regehr
(upper body), Drew Stafford (lower body), Tyler Ennis (ankle), Cody
McCormick (upper body), Brad Boyes (right leg), Patrick Kaleta
(lower body), Tyler Myers (broken wrist) and Mike Weber (upper
Regehr, Stafford and Kaleta practiced Monday and hope to be
ready for Tuesday’s contest.
“It’s the longest (injury) list I’ve seen since I’ve been here,”
said coach Lindy Ruff, who has been with the team since 1997.
Luke Adam made up for the missing production, scoring twice.
“You have to play hard every night regardless if you have your
full lineup or not,” Adam said. “You can’t afford to make mistakes,
and you need everyone going every night.”
Though New York has struggled to score this season, that hasn’t
been the case in recent games against Buffalo. The Islanders have
registered at least five goals in three of the last five matchups,
including a 7-6 overtime victory Feb. 13 in the most recent
Grabner, who scored the game-winner, and Stafford each had a hat
trick in that contest. Grabner has six goals and an assist in four
career games versus the Sabres, while Stafford has six goals and
five assists in 13 against the Islanders.
John Tavares has notched a point in seven of his eight career
contests against Buffalo, totaling six goals and five assists.
New York has won two straight road games against Buffalo, which
ended a three-game home losing streak Saturday.