Game Preview: NY Islanders vs Buffalo Sabres

Buffalo Sabres v New York Islanders
Buffalo Sabres v New York Islanders / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

Last Game:

After riding a six-game winning streak, the NY Islanders finally lost in the last game of the "California road trip" against the LA Kings by a score of 3-0. The Isles could not get anything going on offense during this game, as they went a brutal 0/5 on the power play and only had 13 shots through two periods. New York had been red hot offensively in the first two games in California, with two dominating efforts against the Sharks and Ducks that ended in 7-2 and 6-1 scores respectively, so they were likely due for a dud. Ilya Sorokin didn't see much during the game either, stopping 22 of 24 shots he faced. Adrian Kempe and Philip Danault beat Sorokin, while Trevor Moore potted the empty netter.

The Buffalo Sabres have won their last two games, the most recent coming against the Detroit Red Wings, whom the Isles are competing with for a wild card spot in the standings. The Red Wings have been floundering lately and this game personified that, with Detroit going down 6-1 before the halfway point of the contest. Alex Lyon got hung out to dry in goal, only stopping nine of the 13 shots he faced in the first period, prompting head coach Derek Lalonde to pull him. New blueline acquisition Bowen Byram scored two goals in his third game with Buffalo, while rookie Zach Benson put up one goal and two assists.

Historical Matchup:

In the last five meetings between these clubs dating back to last season, the Isles and Sabres have not combined for five total goals scored in the game. The last time they played was in October when they played twice in one week, splitting those two games. The latest was a 3-1 loss in Buffalo that was a brutal game to watch if you were an Islanders fan. Noah Dobson scored the only Islanders goal as the game neared its end, at least sparing them from getting shut out. Mattias Samuelsson, who is notorious for signing an eight-year contract before scoring his first NHL goal, has just one goal this season and it came in this game. A week before this, the Islanders won a close one 3-2 at UBS Arena, with Casey Cizikas potting the game-winner late in the third period to avoid the Isles blowing a 2-0 lead.

Players to Watch:

Brock Nelson has been hot lately for the Isles, riding a five-game point streak until they got shut out by LA. In that stretch, he scored four goals and added six assists for ten points, being a huge reason why the Isles had success. The former first-rounder is one goal away from notching his 30th of the season, which would make this the third straight season of him hitting the 30-goal mark. He's on pace to tie his career high of 37 goals in a season, but also on pace to reach around 70 points in 82 games. Nelson has shown great chemistry with Mat Barzal and Bo Horvat ever since moving to the first line's left-wing spot, so look for this line to continue buzzing.

The Sabres' best player lately most would say has been Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen in goal. After starting the season a little rocky, Luukkonen has won nine of his last 13 games and has only allowed more than three goals once during that time. In the first game during this stretch, he shut out the Kings, whom the Islanders were just shut out by. The Finland native boasts a 21-16-3 record this season with a 2.44 GAA and .914 save percentage, the best in his career while being a full-time starter. It will be no easy task for the Isles to light him up in the net, especially since games are usually tight between these two clubs.

Projected Lines:


Brock Nelson- Bo Horvat- Mathew Barzal

Anders Lee- JG Pageau- Kyle Palmieri

Pierre Engvall- Casey Cizikas- Simon Holmstrom

Matt Martin- Kyle MacLean- Cal Clutterbuck

Adam Pelech- Noah Dobson

Alexander Romanov- Ryan Pulock

Mike Reilly- Sebastian Aho

Ilya Sorokin

Semyon Varlamov


Zegum Girgensons - Tage Thompson - Alex tuch

Jordan Greenway - Dylan Cozens - Zach Benson

Jeff Skinner - Peyton Krebs - JJ Peterka

Eric Robinson - Tyson Jost - Victor Olofsson

Bowen Byram - Rasmus Dahlin

Owen Power - Henri Jokiharju

Jacob Bryson - Connor Clifton

Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen

Eric Comrie

Line combinations courtesy of Daily Faceoff.