UNIONDALE, N.Y. (WKBW) — Sabres and Islanders fans alike might have witnessed the goal of the year on Saturday afternoon. Mathew Barzal's through-the-legs goal started a snowball effect that Buffalo just couldn't overcome. A strong seocnd period guided the Islanders to a 5-2 victory.
Buffalo still has one more game on Long Island; it'll be their third in a row on the Islanders' ice. Puck drop is on Sunday at noon.
Three observations from Saturday's game:
Welcome to the league!
The one bright spot today against the Islanders was the first 20 minutes. And Buffalo had Jacob Bryson to thank for that. It was the first time the Sabres had a lead, at any point in a game, since February 25th. Bryson's shot really had no business going in. But after going off the iron and into the back of the net, I'm sure someone set that puck aside for him.
After a solid NHL debut a few weeks ago, Bryson had been spotty since then. He makes rookie plays because he is one. But this season practically lost, and it's not even halfway over. Especially with other injuries along Buffalo's blue line, maybe the only way for Bryson to get better is to have a bad night every so often.
The mix-up still isn't enough
Saturday's forward lines brought a welcome surprise: actual change. And change that doesn't involve Kyle Okposo. Head coach Ralph Krueger is constantly saying that he's looking for a "spark." That's not going to come one swap or one scratch at a time. The overhaul up front might've been what the Sabres needed.
The Sabres weren't grossly outshot, and they even held a lead for nearly an entire period. But the problems among the Rieder-Eakin-Okposo line continue to persist. Okposo looked absolutely lost on the Islanders' third period goal.
Stop the bleeding
I don't mean on the whole season. Or even a whole week. Or a single game. Within one period, the wheels just completely fell off. Mathew Barzal looked like a skating, breathing highlight reel against Carter Hutton. But after that, the snowball effect plagued the blue and gold once again.
The Islanders' next goal came less than two minutes after that. Colin Miller was quite possibly the furthest out of position I've seen an NHL defenseman, at least in quite some time. The next tally after that was just three minutes after that.
It doesn't take a mathematician to know that there's only 20 minutes in a period of hockey. But it didn't even take half of a frame for the Sabres to be completely derailed by a physical, rock-solid Islanders team. Maybe the snowball effect, and being so easily shaken by it, is why the Sabres hadn't even held a lead for nearly ten days.