On Saturday, the Islanders continued their domination over the Sabres by winning their fifth-straight game against them this season. The game started off with the Sabres taking the early lead with a quick goal at 0:33 mark by Jacob Bryson who took the quick shot as Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov was screened on the play. Despite this great start by Buffalo, the rest of the first period was very much a back and forth between the two teams with neither team seeming to be able to convert on their chances. All changed, with a huge rush down the ice by Islanders forward Mathew Barzal.
Barzal’s first goal really started the momentum for his team. He used his quick speed to drive towards the net, even as Buffalo’s Rasmus Ristolainen tried to lift his stick and push the puck away. Barzal knocked Ristolainen’s stick away, to which Ristolainen lost an edge allowing Barzal a lane towards the net. As he came around to the side, he froze goaltender Carter Hutton and redirected the puck by putting his stick between his legs and shooting beyond the region that Hutton could stretch out to with his blocker. It’s not everyday you see a shot like this, in fact Barzal’s goal was so out of the ordinary that it is now up for goal of the year. The thing about Barzal is he can become a very dangerous player very quickly. Give him the room and the puck and he has the speed behind him to push him in front of any defensive player and towards the net. This goal against the Sabres here easily proves this as he creates a path to the net, knocks down Ristolainen who was the only one from the Sabres to challenge him and uses his stick handling skills to flip the puck up into the opposite side of the crease.
This is his third game in a row that Barzal managed to pick up a few points as he had gained two points in both previous games against the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday and the Buffalo Sabres again on Thursday with two assists. Barzal went on to play the rest of the game, adding an additional assist to his stats sheet on the fifth goal of the game by Anders Lee.
Aside from this, Barzal did make a crucial mistake in the first as he came to the top of the point in the Islanders’ defensive zone with the puck. Having lost an edge himself due to a play by Jeff Skinner, Barzal’s mistake gave Brandon Montour a breakaway towards the Islanders net to which he got a shot off on goal that Varlamov was able to block away. A goal by Skinner would have put New York down two goals early which may have changed their second period outcome. I say this because they scored four unanswered goals in the second period alone once recording that first tally. If this were to have changed, we may have seen a much closer game between the two teams.
The game concluded with the Sabres falling 5-2 against New York. They now must look ahead to their next matchup today at 12 pm to try to come out of an Islanders-Sabres game with at least one win of their own. If not, the Islanders will hold a 6-0 record against them until they face off once more in early May.