BUFFALO - After pounding out four straight wins, the Islanders had their hot streak snapped as Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller made 24 saves to earn his second shutout of the season and blank the Islanders, 3-0, at HSBC Arena last night.
Avenging their embarrassing 5-0 blowout defeat Saturday, the Sabres beat up on a listless Islanders squad that looked nothing like the feisty underdogs who had been tearing their way through some of the conference's most dominant teams.
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"They did a lot of things right and combine that with our lack of efficiency from the faceoff dot, lack of urgency at times, poor decisions, not skating when we had the opportunity to take ice," coach Scott Gordon said. "It was a bad combination."
After Monday's game against Edmonton, in which they did not give the Oilers a single power-play opportunity, the Islanders gave up three against the Sabres in the first period, including 28 seconds of a 5-on-3 advantage.
Six seconds after Kyle Okposo took the first penalty of the night, a hooking call against Jason Pominville, the Sabres scored on Derek Roy's wrist shot from the left circle that beat Martin Biron. Biron was screened in front on the power-play goal at 8:27 by Thomas Vanek.
"We've just got to be more disciplined," Okposo said. "We took a few stupid penalties we shouldn't have taken."
While the Islanders floated several shifts throughout the game, Biron was the Islander who showed the most spark and snarl against his former team as he veered from his nice-guy off-ice persona and charged toward Patrick Kaleta after he caused a collision in front of the net in the first period.
After getting checked by Jack Hillen in the defensive zone, Kaleta took out his frustration on Frans Nielsen by hitting him in front of the net and sending him crashing into Biron. Biron immediately raced toward Kaleta and tore at his helmet from behind, putting him in a reverse headlock that resulted in a roughing penalty at 11:10.
"That was a stupid play," said Biron, who made 36 saves. "He hits our guy into me just to try to hurt somebody. It's a stupid play, so sometimes you have to act stupid when those things happen."
The Islanders fell behind 2-0 in the second period as another Sabres power play yielded a goal. After Brendan Witt's boarding penalty against Mike Grier gave Buffalo the man-advantage, Vanek knocked one through from point-blank range on a nice backhanded feed from Drew Stafford at 17:13.
"We took some penalties tonight that were bad penalties for the wrong reasons," Gordon said.
To secure the win in the third, Paul Gaustad scored a goal at 16:19 as he sneaked the puck past the goal line beneath Biron's right pad to give the Sabres a 3-0 edge, a goal that was initially waved off but then overturned after review.
Last night's loss may have been the sole letdown in the last five games for the Islanders, but that doesn't make it any easier to swallow.
"You win a couple games and you're harder on yourself," Biron said. "Winning is contagious."