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National Hockey League
NY Islanders 4, Buffalo 1
When: 7:30 PM ET, Thursday, December 30, 2021
Where: UBS Arena, Elmont, New York
Referees: Steve Kozari, Kelly Sutherland
Linesmen: Shandor Alphonso, Jesse Marquis
Attendance: 17255

Mathew Barzal, playing his first game following a stint in COVID-19 protocol, scored the New York Islanders' first goal and added two assists Thursday night as the hosts cruised to a 4-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres in Elmont, N.Y.

The three-point game was the first of the season for Barzal, who missed the previous three games.

New York's Kieffer Bellows scored the game-winning goal and contributed an assist. Anders Lee and Noah Dobson also scored for the Islanders, who played for the first time since a 4-3 shootout loss to the Vegas Golden Knights on Dec. 19.

Islanders goalie Semyon Varlamov made 36 saves.

Kyle Okposo, who spent the first nine seasons of his career with the Islanders, scored for the Sabres, who lost both ends of a back-to-back set. Buffalo, which fell 4-3 to the visiting New Jersey Devils on Wednesday, has dropped three straight (0-2-1).

Sabres goalie Malcolm Subban recorded 28 saves.

Barzal opened the scoring by taking a drop pass from Josh Bailey, winding up and firing a shot beyond Subban, who had four teammates near or in the faceoff circles, at 12:35 of the first period.

Matt Martin was whistled for tripping to set up the Sabres' game-tying power play goal with exactly one minute left in the first. Varlamov deflected a shot by Victor Olofsson, and Brett Murray's attempt to swipe at the rebound bounced to Okposo, who tucked a shot into the open corner of the net.

Bellows collected the go-ahead goal in impressive fashion 6:45 into the second. The left winger raced up the right side of the ice, drew defensemen Henri Jokiharju and Rasmus Dahlin into the slot, and instead of dishing to an open Jean-Gabriel Pageau, fired a shot past Subban.

A goalie interference call on Anders Bjork set up the power play that yielded Lee's goal fewer than five minutes later. Bellows' pass into the crease glanced off the skate of Lee, who was surrounded by four Sabres yet still managed to collect the puck and backhand the shot beyond Subban's glove at 11:25 of the second.

Dobson added an insurance goal at 11:43 of the third, when his shot from just inside the blue line glanced off Subban's pads and trickled between his legs.

--Field Level Media

Top Game Performances
 
Buffalo   NY Islanders
Kyle Okposo 1 Points Mathew Barzal 3
Kyle Okposo 1 Goals Mathew Barzal 1
Brett Murray 1 Assists Mathew Barzal 2
Kyle Okposo 1 Power Play Goals Anders Lee 1
N/A Short Handed Goals N/A
Malcolm Subban .875 Save Percentage Semyon Varlamov .973
Malcolm Subban 28 Saves Semyon Varlamov 36
Team Stats Summary
 
Team Shots Goals Power Play Penalty Kill Penalty Mins Face Offs Won
Buffalo 37 1 1-2 1-2 4 16
NY Islanders 32 4 1-2 1-2 4 31
Upcoming Games
  • NY Islanders will play their next game at home against Edmonton. The Islanders have a W/L % of .250 after a win and .368 after a loss.
  • Buffalo will play their next game on the road against Boston. The Sabres have a W/L % of .455 after a win and .238 after a loss.