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5 Observations: Islanders top Sabres 3-1

Islanders shut down Sabres in third period
Posted at 10:07 PM, Feb 15, 2021

BUFFALO, N.Y. [WKBW] — In their first game back after a two-week shutdown, the Buffalo Sabres came up short, falling to the New York Islanders 3-1. Victor Olofsson scored the Sabres only goal and Linus Ullmark turned away 25 of 28 shots faced.

5 Observations from Monday's loss:

"Zero shots is awful" - Victor Olofsson

The Buffalo Sabres did not record a single shot in the third period. You didn't read that wrong. In the final frame, the Sabres finished with zero shots.

If you thought the Sabres would make a late push in the third period then you'd be mistaken. Heading into the final frame the Sabres were trailing by two goals but you'd think they were the team trying to protect a lead. Perhaps the team that hasn't played in more than two weeks ran out of energy or maybe the Islanders just completely shut them down. For my money, it was a bit of both. But I can't remember watching an NHL team fail to record a single shot in a period.

That's probably because it doesn't happen very often. This is just the fourth time in franchise history the Sabres have failed to record a shot in a period. It's the first time it's happened since 2011. Shoutout to our friend John Vogl from The Athletic for digging up those stats in the Sabres media guide.

"It's a bad period. It's not a good period of hockey and that's not the way we want to play," Kyle Okposo added. "The best part about it is we've got another game coming up in less than 24 hours."

"We couldn't find the energy, especially in the third period," head coach Ralph Krueger added.

Failing to generate at 5-on-5

When the Sabres have the man advantage they're a dangerous team. The same can't be said when they're playing at even strength.

"It's frustrating when we don't get the offense going," lone goal scorer Victor Olofsson said. "We need to do a better job at putting the puck in better positions for ourselves."

As a team, the Sabres started strong but that push came to a screeching halt as the game moved along. If they don't figure things out at 5-on-5 soon things are going to get much worse before they get better. And that's saying a lot.

Will Borgen can stay

In his first game of the 2021 season, Will Borgen looked confident and comfortable every time he was on the ice. For someone his size, he's a strong skater and it seems like always wins loose puck battles. In the defensive zone he clears the front of the ice and while on the penalty kill, he didn't hesitate to drop down to one knee and block a shot. Even when the Sabres are fully healthy, Borgen deserves a look.

Missing pieces

Despite the strong play of Borgen, the Sabres desperately missed both Jake McCabe and Rasmus Ristolainen on Monday. Their absence was especially evident on the Islanders' third goal when Brock Nelson slipped behind the Sabres defense to tap in an easy goal. Matt Irwin and Henri Jokiharju failed to pick up Nelson and the Isles doubled their lead. Although he's still listed on the NHL's COVID list, McCabe skated Monday morning and appears to be close to his return to the lineup. Ristolainen has yet to practice since he was placed on the list two weeks ago.

Dahlin was strong

With an expanded workload, Rasmus Dahlin had a strong game at both ends of the ice. He was crisp breaking out of the defensive zone and handled the extra minutes well. The Sabres third-year defender took some flack for getting caught flat-footed on the Islanders' second goal of the night scored by JG Pageau. But if the shot is saved by Ullmark, which it should have been, we'd never be talking about the play. Dahlin was solid on a night when a lot of his teammates were not.