The Upshot: NY Islanders shut out for second straight game; blanked by Buffalo 4-0

Mar 14, 2024; Buffalo, New York, USA;  Buffalo Sabres left wing Zach Benson (9) celebrates his
Mar 14, 2024; Buffalo, New York, USA; Buffalo Sabres left wing Zach Benson (9) celebrates his / Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
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HOW IT HAPPENED

Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen made 21 saves as the New York Islanders were shut out for the second consecutive game, this time by the Buffalo Sabres, 4-0 at KeyBank Center on Thursday night. Luukkonen now has five shutouts this season, becoming the first Buffalo goaltender since Ryan Miller to do it. He's now tied with Vancouver’s Thatcher Demko for third in the NHL in that category. Zach Benson had his first two-goal game, and Owen Power had two assists for the Sabres (32-30-5), who have won three in a row and are 8-3-1 in their past 12 games. Ilya Sorokin made 33 saves for the Isles (29-22-14), who have been shut out in consecutive games after winning six straight.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

You can't point to anything on the ice. It was flat out one of their flattest performances of the season, as they were outshot 37-21 for the game and now haven't won in Buffalo since Feb. 16, 2021.

They did get some help off the ice to remain in a playoff spot as the Detroit Red Wings continued to reel and loss to the Arizona Coyotes. Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Flyers, who the Isles are chasing for 3rd in the Metro, were beaten by the Toronto Maple Leafs. However, the Tampa Bay Lightning doubled-up the New York Ranger at home, 6-3, and now lead the Isles by four points.

WHAT WENT WRONG

The Islanders were just off from the starts. The Sabres were the better team from the opening face-off and if it wasn't for Sorokin, they would've been out of this game by the end of the first-period.

“The first game coming back east is always a tough game,” head coach Patrick Roy said after the game. “That’s the beauty of this league, it makes you humble pretty fast. You’re flying high, winning six in a row; you think you’re under control. But after losing two in a row, we need to regroup.”

Mar 14, 2024; Buffalo, New York, USA;  New York Islanders center Mathew Barzal (13) skates with the
Mar 14, 2024; Buffalo, New York, USA; New York Islanders center Mathew Barzal (13) skates with the / Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

It was a tricky spot and the Sabres have been playing well, but with two-days off before the game, there was hope the Islanders would show a lot more than they did, giving how crucial every game is at this point of the season. They could've ended the night in the 7th spot in the East and instead were fortunate to still be in a playoff spot as they head home.

STATS OF THE GAME

Per Eric Hornick in The Skinny, The Isles were shut out in consecutive games for the first time since February 13-15, 2020, when Nashville (Juuse Soros) and Vegas (Marc-Andre Fleury) blanked them in consecutive road games.

According to NHL PR, 2023 1st round pick Zach Benson scored his eighth and ninth goals of the season and is now tied with Rasmus Dahlin for the third most by a player age 18 or younger, trailing Phil Housley (17) and Pierre Turgeon (14).

SOCIAL MEDIA MOMENT OF THE GAME

Early in the season, it seemed Ilya Sorokin was having a save-of-the-year candidate each night. However, it’s been a while since last year’s Vezina runner-up. In the first period, the 28-year-old went right to left and made a leg-splitting glove save on Peyton Krebs to keep the game scoreless.

WHAT'S NEXT

The Islanders head home back to UBS Arena to host the Ottawa Senators on Saturday afternoon. Face-off is scheduled for 12:30 PM EST.