Elmont, NY– It was long-awaited, but the New York Islanders finally began their season on Saturday night and did so by defeating the Buffalo Sabres, 3-2, in a tight contest at UBS Arena.
“Pelech did a great job walking the line and getting that puck through,” Cizikas said. “That’s the main thing. It’s not easy. Guys are committed to blocking them. To get that puck through the bodies is definitely a great play by him.”
— Isles on MSGSN (@IslesMSGN) October 15, 2023
Buffalo challenged the goal, believing Noah Dobson was offside before entering the zone, but the officials upheld the score after a video review.
Brock Nelson continued his run of starting the season strong, scoring the first Islanders goal of the year with an assist from Pierre Engvall just under six minutes into the first period. The goal was the sixth of Nelson’s career on opening night.
Nelson began the evening by being unveiled as the Islanders’ new alternate captain and finished it with his first two points of the season. All three members of the Islanders’ second line put their names in the box score against Buffalo as Kyle Palmieri cleaned up a loose puck later in the first to make it a 2-0 game.
“I thought Nelson was skating tonight,” Islanders head coach Lane Lambert said. “I thought Engvall was skating and created the first goal. I thought Palmieri was doing his thing. Goals are created by Kyle Palmieri when he’s in front of the net.”
However, the momentum the Islanders had early stalled as the issues they displayed with their defensive structure throughout the preseason resurfaced in the second period.
A miscommunication between new defense partners Dobson and Pelech led to a goal for Jordan Greenway.
Later in the third, a miscue by Dobson allowed Buffalo to tie the score as a puck snuck from behind the boards and onto the waiting stick of Casey Mittlestadt, who used his backhand to roof a shot over the shoulder of Islanders goalie Ilya Sorokin.
Sorokin stopped 27 of 29 shots as he was once again strong in net for the Islanders, making key saves that kept the team and the crowd at UBS Arena in the game.
The Islanders will be back at home on Tuesday, Oct. 17, to face the Arizona Coyotes.