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New York Islanders

Islanders Run Over By Sabres In First Regulation Loss Of Season

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Buffalo, NY–  The New York Islanders managed to slow down a fast-charging Buffalo Sabres team back on Long Island for a season-opening win but couldn’t replicate those results on Saturday night at KeyBank Center.

Instead, the Sabres continued to win the race to loose pucks, picking up a 3-1 victory while using the Islanders–who were already fatigued from an overtime loss the night prior–to show how speed can kill.

“Through the neutral zone, just our puck management, it has to be better,” Islanders head coach Lane Lambert said. “The intentions are good, but unintended consequences come along with that. When you turn the puck over in the neutral zone, certainly against fast teams, and every team in this league is fast in transition, then you find yourself back in your own zone and spending way too much time there.”

The Sabres had the advantage over the Islanders in shots on goal (43-25), scoring chances (29-13) and on faceoffs (38-18).

The Islanders managed to keep up for a little while until an already lively Buffalo crowd was given even more life in the second period.

Tensions between the Islanders and Sabres came to a point when Adam Pelech had to answer for an inadvertent collision with Buffalo’s Jeff Skinner by dropping the gloves with Alex Tuch.

The bout helped swing momentum into the Sabres’ favor and eventually turned into a 1-0 lead, off of Skinner’s one-timer from below the right faceoff circle.

That lead was promptly doubled and soon after tripled with goals by Mattias Samuelsson and Dylan Cozens.

Semyon Varlamov overall was solid in net for the Islanders, making 41 saves, but was given a heavy workload in his first start of the year, having to face 44 shots.

“I thought our goaltender was good,” Lambert said. “He continued to make saves when he needed to, and that’s what we need him to do. We were certainly in a position to maybe break through, but we didn’t.”

The Islanders had 25 shots on goal against Buffalo’s Eric Comrie, who made 24 saves.

Comrie held the Islanders scoreless until the near end of the game when Noah Dobson‘s slap shot from the point was blocked but lazily fell into the back of the Buffalo net for his first goal of the season.

Saturday’s game was the first of the year for both Oliver Wahlstrom and Julien Gauthier, as Lambert inserted the pair into the lineup over Simon Holmstrom and Hudson Fasching.

The loss is the Islanders’ second in a row and first in regulation this season as they fall to 2-1-1.

The Islanders next play on Tuesday when they face the Colorado Avalanche at UBS Arena.

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