The Sabres haven’t played in over two weeks, and the Isles were able to take advantage of that.
On Monday, the New York Islanders took on the Buffalo Sabres for the first time this season. The Islanders caught the Sabres at a great time: they hadn’t played a game in the month of February because of COVID-19.
Meanwhile, the Islanders were catching fire at the right time, having earned at least a point in each of their past six games. So, how did the Islanders do on their first trip to Buffalo?
1st period: All about Varly
The Islanders scored two goals in the first, but this period was all about goaltender Semyon Varlamov. He made 12 saves on 12 shots, including a highlight-worthy one. He continues to be one of the best goalies in the NHL in this young season.
As for the goals, what’s been working is still working. Anders Lee is getting better game by game and was able to add to his goal total by doing what he does best in front of the net.
Props must be given to Josh Bailey, who noticed the position of his captain and shot him a slick pass. It looks like Bailey’s move to the top line really was a good one.
With an assist on the play, Mathew Barzal is now on a nine-game point streak, the longest of his career.
After getting off to a bit of a slow start, Jean-Gabriel Pageau has been on fire. He sped down the ice and took a fantastic shot for his third goal in as many games.
2nd period: (Power) play that Brock n’ roll
The Islanders committed a penalty and have been elite on the penalty kill this season, but they couldn’t stop Victor Olofsson’s famous wicked shot that put the Sabres on the board.
However, the lead would get back to two goals on the Islanders’ power play. Brock Nelson put the Islanders up on the man-advantage and has scored all three of his goals on the power play this season.
Bailey must be given credit, once again, for being aware of Nelson and getting the puck to him even though he himself could’ve easily taken a shot.
3rd period: Job done
The third period was nothing to write home about and was honestly a bit boring. The Sabres had a grand total of zero shots on goal in the third, making life easier for Varlamov and his teammates.
The Islanders are building momentum and were, in fact, able to take advantage of a very rusty Sabres team. They face the Sabres on back-to-back nights, and another win would keep this strong team rolling.
Key Moment: What a save by Semyon
The key moment of the game was a brilliant save by Varlamov in the first period.
🤯 🤯 🤯 🤯 pic.twitter.com/8fz4pORwTY
— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) February 16, 2021
The post is a goaltender’s best friend, but Varlamov’s reaction and sweet move prevented the Sabres from getting anything done in the first.
Player of the game: Anders Lee
The captain led the way for the Islanders in this game. He scored a goal, had an iXG of 0.50 (team-high), 0.73 xGF, 0.28 xGA, 2.13 GF (tied for team lead), 0 GA, 0.87 defensive score, 0.99 offensive score, and 1.07 individual score.
As we’ve seen in the past, the Islanders are an even better team when Lee is at his best, and it’s crucial that he play this strongly on a nightly basis.
Stats are courtesy of https://hockeystatcards.com/.