While much of the news prior to their game Sunday afternoon with the Buffalo Sabres involved whether or not goalie Evgeni Nabokov would join the Islanders, the home team went out and dropped a 5-3 decision to their in-state rivals at Nassau Coliseum.
The Islanders had claimed Nabokov on waivers Saturday after his departure from the Russian league, but he so far has said he wouldn’t report to New York.
Meantime, following a loss to the team (Islanders) with the third-worst record in the NHL on Friday night in Buffalo, the Sabres regrouped behind the strong goaltending of Ryan Miller and some timely goals.
“We knew it was going to be a tight game,” Buffalo Head Coach Lindy Ruff told the Associated Press afterward. “We came out well and then they took over the game for a little bit. Then I thought we bounced back and had a strong third period.”
“It was an important step,” Miller added. “They (Islanders) had a good second period against us, but the high-sticking calls became pretty important.”
While the Islanders were left wondering whether or not Nabokov would show, goalie Rick DiPietro, who recently battled the flu, was in the pipes for New York, finishing the day with 18 saves.
Matt Moulson scored a pair of goals in the second period, and defenseman Jack Hillen drew the Isles within 4-3 with 3:23 remaining, but New York got no closer as Buffalo would add an empty net goal to end it with New York on a man advantage.
“A loss is a loss. It’s tough to take anything positive out of it,” DiPietro commented to the AP. “It’s not the way you want to do things at home.”
The Isles will look to regroup on the road Tuesday evening when they meet the Pittsburgh Penguins at 7 p.m.
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Written by Dave Thomas