UNIONDALE, N.Y. — The Buffalo Sabres showed some life, but the New York Islanders held them off in the end and wrapped up a three-game set with Buffalo with a 5-2 win on Sunday at Nassau Coliseum.
Cal Clutterbuck came up with the most important goal of the afternoon, scoring with 7:03 left in the game and Buffalo carrying the momentum after pulling within one of the Isles. Clutterbuck was able to corral the puck after Matt Martin had flipped it out of the Islanders’ end.
Buffalo defenseman Brandon Davidson fell as he tried to keep up with Clutterbuck, which gave the Islanders forward a clear path to the net to score. Brock Nelson scored on the empty net at 17:48 to seal the win.
“It was a big goal,” Clutterbuck said about the play. “I just saw Marty flip a puck out and made a really good play under pressure. The puck took a bounce and I was fortunate enough to change directions… It worked out.”
Clutterbuck with the backhand 👀 pic.twitter.com/XCDQfnCIM2
— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) March 7, 2021
It was the third consecutive game that the Islanders had defeated their Western New York foe by a 5-2 final. Sunday was the final meeting between the two teams on Long Island.
New York and Buffalo play two more times in the final week of the regular season at KeyBank Center.
“You see them three times in a row, all in our building,” Lee said. “It’s a mini-series. That third game is tough, especially on a back-to-back, and we knew that coming in. We did a real good job sticking to our game.”
The New York Islanders extended their hold of the East Division with Sunday’s win. They now sit four points ahead of the Washington Capitals, who are in action against the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday night. The Islanders took possession of the top spot in the division on Friday after Washington fell to the Boston Bruins.
Anders Lee and Casey Cizikas each scored on Sunday, and Nelson recorded his first two-goal game of the season. Ilya Sorokin picked up his fourth NHL win in goal, making 24 saves against Buffalo.
It was Sorokin’s seventh start this season.
“It’s tough to beat any team,” Nelson said. “These guys have a lot of weapons. Any team can beat anyone… so every game is going to be different every day…. We did a good job taking it one day at a time.”
Lee got the Islanders onto the board early in the second period with a redirection goal from in front of the net. Jordan Eberle sent a pass to Lee from the side of the net and the Islanders captain was able to put the puck past Buffalo starter Jonas Johansson at 5:13.
Just over a minute later the Islanders had made it a two-goal lead.
Oliver Wahlstrom was able to drive the puck into the offensive zone and then feed Nelson in the high slot. Nelson quickly got off a wrist shot that beat Johansson to make it a 2-0 game.
BR🤩CK NELS🤩N pic.twitter.com/R0fME1xmQR
— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) March 7, 2021
The goal extended Nelson’s point streak to three games and Sunday was the second consecutive game that Nelson had scored in.
The Islanders added to their lead late in the second when Cizikas scored off an impressive pass from Jean-Gabriel Pageau. The Islanders’ third line centerman backhanded a pass from the goal line over to Cizikas, who had been parked in front of the Buffalo Net.
Cizikas picked up his fourth point (one goal, three assists) in his last three games on the play and Pageau recorded his 200th career NHL assist.
Buffalo found some life in the third period to make things interesting. Jeff Skinner scored his first goal of the year at 5:41 of the final frame to break up Sorokin’s shutout bid.
Colin Miller pulled Buffalo within one goal of the Islanders at the 9:35 mark of the third period.
Sunday’s game was nationally televised on NBC as part of Hockey Day in America. Lee and Nelson are both American-born and scored the first two goals of the game.
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