HOW IT HAPPENED
The New York Islanders suffered their first regulation loss of the season, 3-1, to the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday night. Buffalo broke through late in the second period on goals from Jeff Skinner and Mattias Samuelsson to carry a 2-0 lead in the third period. Dylan Cozens then scored earn in the third period to put the game out of reach. Noah Dobson scored the lone Isles goal. Eric Comrie had 24 saves in his season debut, while Semyon Varlamov made 40 stops in his first action of the season.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Playing in his first game of the season, goaltender Semyon Varlamov was the team's best player, stopping the first 27 shots he saw until late in the second period when Jeff Skinner and Mattias Samuelsson each found the back of the net. Varky finished with 40 saves.
The Isles are paying Varlamov well over the next four years to play in about 20 games a season as long as Ilya Sorokin is healthy. Last night, he did his job and played well enough to keep the team in the game. “We got outplayed and the final result was what it deserved to be,” Kyle Palmieri said. “Varly played a great game and he made some big stops and kept it close and kept us in it, but we probably didn't deserve to be in it.”
WHAT WENT WRONG
It's not an excuse, but the Islanders looked flat and fatigued in their first back-to-back of the season after losing 5-4 in OT to the New Jersey Devils the previous night. The penalty kill wasn't the problem it was versus NJ, but the team made consistent turnovers in the neutral zone that led to the Sabres being able to transition and prevented the Islanders from getting into any type of a rhythm.
“Our detail wasn't where it needed to be,” Captain Anders Lee said. “You have to be extremely diligent with the puck and can't give them any freebies when it comes to turnovers. So we had too many of those tonight and they had some sustained pressure.”
STATS OF THE GAME
Per Eric Hornick in The Skinny, Julien Gauthier played 12:58 in his Islander debut; he is the first player to make his Isles debut this season and the 588th player in club history. Gauthier, who was 4th in the NHL last season in 22 mph bursts, was the only player on either team to reach that mark on the night. Oliver Wahlstrom returned to the lineup for the first time since being injured on December 27th; he had missed the last 49 Islander regular season games
SOCIAL MEDIA MOMENT OF THE GAME
There wasn't much happening during the game for Isles fans to be excited about, so let's go with former Islander, and current Sabres captain Kyle Okposo meeting his family before the game.
The Islanders are back home at UBS Arena to take on Devon Toews, Cale Makar and the Colorado Avalanche. Face-off is set for 8:00 PM EDT.