Before receiving a warm welcome from fans in his return to Barclays Center on Friday night, Kyle Okposo had to make a “strange” walk to the visitor’s locker room.
“I didn’t know where to go,” said Okposo, who signed with the Sabres in the offseason after playing the first nine seasons of his career with the Islanders. “I hadn’t been down in the visitor’s room before, so that was a little strange, not going to the other side.”
Okposo played his first game against the Islanders in Buffalo on Dec. 13, but said he knew “it would be different in this building for sure.” He added that the Buffalo game was “odd” but that “sometime in the second period, it started to feel like a hockey game.”
Said John Tavares, “After talking to him last week, he said it was one of the weirdest games he’s played.”
Okposo, who entered the game with nine goals and 13 assists, received a loud ovation after a video tribute during a first-period stoppage.
“They meant a lot,” he said. “For me, my game was up and down early in my career, and I have to give them a lot of credit. They stuck by me.”
Regarding his former teammates, Okposo said, “I have a lot of buddies over there . . . You’re not going to be buddies on the ice, but after the game, you can hug it out and say ‘Merry Christmas.’ ”
Stephen Gionta was called up by the Islanders earlier in the week and called it “a good early Christmas present. It’s good to be back around the guys.”
Jack Capuano said the 33-year-old center, who was inactive Friday, is “one of those guys that does things the right way. Unfortunately, he got the injury during training camp. He probably could have been in our opening night lineup.”