Tue, Feb 16, 2021
By JOHN WAWROW (AP Hockey Writer)
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) - Ilya Sorokin stopped 20 shots to earn his first NHL win, and the New York Islanders defeated the Sabres 3-0 to complete a two-game sweep of Buffalo on Tuesday night.
Jean-Gabriel Pageau and captain Anders Lee scored in a 7:15 span in the first period, and the Islanders improved to 5-0-3 in their past eight - the team's longest streak since a 15-0-2 franchise-record run in the opening two months of the 2019-20 season. Lee added an empty-net goal in the final second, and Pageau extended his scoring streak to four games, in which he has five goals.
The 25-year-old Sorokin improved to 1-2-1 in making his first start since a 25-save outing in a 4-3 overtime loss at Philadelphia on Jan. 31. Selected by New York in the third-round of the 2014 draft, he spent the previous eight seasons playing in his native Russia, where he won 25 or more games in each of his past four seasons and led the Kontinental Hockey League with nine shutouts last year.
The Sabres were blanked a night after they failed to register a shot in the third period in a 3-1 loss to the Islanders. This time, they came up empty - and even had a goal disallowed - on eight shots over the final 20 minutes.
Islanders coach Barry Trotz was successful in challenging offside to negate Victor Olofsson's power-play goal with 6:59 remaining. Replays clearly showed Sabres captain Jack Eichel entering the zone before the puck 22 seconds earlier.
The Sabres dropped to 1-3-1 in their past five and lost three in a row, with goalie Carter Hutton stopping 21 shots.
Buffalo played on consecutive nights following a two-week coronavirus-forced pause during which as many as nine players tested positive for COVID-19.
Though rust played less of a factor on Tuesday, much of the game resembled too many previous Sabres outings.
They gave up the opening goal for the ninth time in 12 games, and trailed 2-0 after the first period for the second consecutive night.
Lee opened the scoring 4:43 by completing a perfect series of passes. Josh Bailey, at the right boards just outside the blue line, initiated by chipping the puck to hit Noah Dobson in stride. Dobson gained the zone and then fed a pass across to an open Lee, who snapped it in the open left side.
The Islanders then caught the Sabres flat-footed on Pageau's goal some seven minutes later. Ryan Pulock, from his own end, fed Pageau at the Sabres blue line, where he got a quick step on defensmeman Colin Miller. Driving up the left side, Pageau snapped a shot that appeared to tip off Miller's outstretched stick and beat Hutton high on the far side.
Sorokin was sharp in stopping Taylor Hall's backhander on a breakaway 12:21 into the first period. His best save came with 9:30 remaining, when he kicked out his right pad to stop a one-timer from Sam Reinhart, who was set up alone at the left post.
Bailey had two assists to up his career total to 329 and moving one ahead of Patrick Flatley for seventh on the Islanders' list. Nick Leddy's assist on Pageau's goal was his 176th, tmoving him one ahead of Kenny Jonsson for fourth place on the team's career list among defensemen.
Islanders: LW Anthony Beauvillier returned after missing nine games with a lower body injury, with Leo Komarov being a healthy scratch.
Sabres: The Sabres welcomed back defenseman Jake McCabe to the lineup, while stalwart Rasmus Ristolainen was among five players removed from the COVID list. That leaves center Casey Mittelstadt as Buffalo's lone player on the list. F Rasmus Asplund played after being called up from the taxi squad.
The NHL re-scheduling Buffalo's two postponed games against Washington to March 15 and April 9 further constricts the Sabres schedule by taking away two of their four remaining multi-day breaks. The Sabres are now in the midst of playing 28 games in 48 days before getting a two-day rest on April 4-5.
Sabres: Open four-game trip, starting at the Washington Capitals on Thursday
Islanders: Open two-game series at the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday.
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