Let the battle begin.
The New York Islanders and Buffalo Sabres will get real acquainted with one another starting tonight when they play the first of three consecutive games against each other at Nassau Coliseum. It will mark only the second time in Islanders history that the team will play the same opponent in three straight games.
Buffalo and the Islanders are trending in very different directions this season. The visitors from Western New York have dropped eight of their last 10 games, which includes three losses to the Islanders already, while those same Isles are 7-2-1 in the same span.
The New York Islanders could tie the Washington Capitals for first place in the East Division with a win tonight over Buffalo. With three games against the same opponent on the docket, the Islanders are trying to remain focused on one game at a time.
“It’s different for sure, but I think for us we’re just focusing on the first game tonight and getting off to a good start,” Noah Dobson said this morning. “Just focus on the first period tonight and go from there. It’s obviously going to be different, but I think we’re just focused on the first game.”
Islanders head coach Barry Trotz was keeping his lineup close to the vest during his morning media availability. He did not reveal any details about his lineup or which goaltender would be in net for the Islanders tonight.
Trotz has said that rookie netminder Ilya Sorokin would be getting more starts during their current stretch of 19 games over 33 days.
“I think it’s just the same, two in a row,” Cal Clutterbuck said about playing Buffalo so many times consecutively. “The further you go down the line Game 2, you’re going to have things to break down from Game 1. We played them a couple of times recently so we have a tape to look at there. I think it just comes down to who can stay the course longer, who can play their game longer and who can be better for long stretches of time without getting complacent.”
Buffalo is well aware of the defensive strength of the Islanders and how suffocating it can be to their offense. Part of their plan to break through is to get players in front of the net.
“We have to make life hard on them there,” Taylor Hall said. “They’re a very good forechecking team. They’re better offensively than teams give them credit for. Our whole focus can’t be just go play down there and make them hard on them. We really have to be diligent in how we defend and how we break out of our zone.”
New York Islanders Lineup (Projected)
Anders Lee — Mathew Barzal — Jordan Eberle
Anthony Beauvillier — Brock Nelson — Josh Bailey
Michael Dal Colle — Jean-Gabriel Pageau — Oliver Wahlstrom
Matt Martin — Casey Cizikas — Cal Clutterbuck
Adam Pelech — Ryan Pulock
Nick Leddy — Scott Mayfield
Andy Greene — Noah Dobson
The Islanders have won their last six games against Buffalo, as well as six straight meetings on home ice. … Anthony Beauvillier will appear in his 300th career NHL game tonight. Beauvillier has 131 points (67 goals, 64 assists) during five seasons in the NHL. … Oliver Wahlstrom is currently on a five-game point streak (three goals, three assists). His five-game streak is the longest by a rookie this season. … Buffalo’s penalty kills is 19-for-22 in its last 12 games against the Islanders. … Buffalo is 2-6-2 in their last 10 games against the Islanders. …. Sam Reinhart leads Buffalo in goals with eight this season. He is tied for second on the team in points with 15.
How to Watch
Tonight’s game will air on MSG+2 and stream on MSG Go or on NHL.TV outside of the New York market. On the radio dial, the game can be heard on WNYM 970 AM, 88.7 FM WRHU and 103.9 FM LI News Radio.