After going winless in the first seven games of the 2013-2014 season with an 0-6-1 record going into their game against the New York Islanders on Tuesday, Oct. 15, the Sabres were one loss away from their worst start in franchise history
However, the Sabres were able to tie the game on three separate occasions to force overtime en route to a 4-3 shootout victory for their first win of the season.
While they came out of the game with a victory, the Sabres didn’t exactly get the start they wanted, as Islanders started off the scoring with a goal by Frans Nielsen 13:11 into the opening period. After taking a pass from Justin Bailey in the neutral zone, Nielsen skated into the Sabres zone to the top of the left face-off circle. Then, after a toe-drag deke in front of Sabres defenseman Mark Pysyk, Nielsen fired a wrist shot that beat Sabres goalie Ryan Miller on the far side to give the Islanders a 1-0 lead.
The Sabres would even up the score at one 5:24 into the second period on a goal by Tyler Ennis. Sabres defensemen Christian Ehrhoff backhanded a bouncing puck on net that handcuffed Islanders goalie Evgeni Nabokov, and while Nabokov thought he had it under him, Ennis poked it into the net to tie the game.
The tie game didn’t last long though, as the Islanders took a 2-1 lead only 2:44 later on a goal by Matt Martin. After carrying the puck into the offensive zone along the right wing, Islanders forward (and former Sabre) Eric Boulton sent a pass right in front of the net to Casey Cizikas, who couldn’t get a clean shot off as the puck went into the corner. Cizikas was then able to retrieve the puck and sent a pass out front to Matt Martin, who was able to wrist a shot into the net with Ryan Miller out of position.
However, the Sabres didn’t waste time in tying the game back up, as Thomas Vanek scored a minute and 11 seconds later while on the power play. From the right point in the Islanders zone, Christian Ehrhoff sent a pass to Cody Hodgson inside the left faceoff circle. Hodgson then sent a pass to Vanek right in front of the Islanders net, who wristed a shot past Evgeni Nabokov to even the score at two apiece.
The score would remain even at 2-2 for almost a full period before Matt Moulson gave the Islanders the lead again with a power play goal 8:44 into the third period. After taking a pass on the right point from Lubomir Visnovsky, Islanders captain John Tavares fired a slap shot that Moulson was able to redirect in front of the net past Ryan Miller to put the Islanders back up 3-2.
The Sabres were able to tie it up one final time though with merely 2:01 remaining on the clock on a goal by Marcus Foligno. Islanders defenseman Brian Strait tried to clear the puck out of the Islanders zone after a faceoff, but Sabres defenseman Tyler Myers was able to keep the puck in the zone off the right point with a pass to Marcus Foligno. Foligno, with his back to the net, then spun around and fired a wrist-shot from between the top of the right faceoff circle and the blue line that eluded Evgeni Nabokov to knot up the score at three in the final minutes.
The game would go to overtime, which in turn yielded no winner, so the game went to a shootout.
Ryan Miller was able to stop two of the three Islanders shots he faced in the shootout, while Evgeni Nabokov gave up goals to Thomas Vanek and Tyler Ennis as the Sabres went on to win their first game of the season.
Ryan Miller stopped 41 of the 44 shots he faced in the game for the Sabres, while Evgeni Nabokov made 31 saves for the Islanders on 34 shots.
With the win, Ryan Miller now has a 1-4-0 record this season with a .939 save percentage and a 2.39 goals against average, and the Sabres move to 1-6-1 after the first eight games.
The Sabres next game is on Thursday, Oct. 17 at home against the Vancouver Canucks at 7 p.m. Eastern time.