BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) —Evgeni Nabokov stopped 35 shots in the New York Islanders’ 4-0 win over the skidding and unraveling Buffalo Sabres, who were booed off the ice for a second consecutive home game on Saturday night.
Mark Streit and Michael Grabner broke the game open with goals 65 seconds apart late in the second period. John Tavares and Colin McDonald sealed the win with third-period goals. Matt Moulson added two assists in helping the Islanders (8-9-1) win their second straight and fourth in six games.
Nabokov was particularly sharp in stopping 13 shots in the second period for his first shutout of the season and 53rd of his NHL career.
The Sabres have lost four in a row and five of six. They are 4-12-1 in their past 17.
This loss came in Ron Rolston’s second game as the Sabres’ interim coach, and first at home, following a 3-1 loss at Toronto on Thursday.
Rolston was promoted from Rochester of the AHL on Wednesday to take over for the remainder of the season after Lindy Ruff was fired.
The 12 losses match the most the Sabres have had in their first 19 games since a 4-12-3 start in the 1986-87 season.
There was hardly any mention of Rolston’s presence behind the bench or tributes to Ruff. The only notable sign was a hand-drawn poster stuck on a wall in the upper level that read: “This year’s been RUFF. But now let’s get on a ROL.”
What hasn’t changed is the Sabres getting booed in their building, a trend that began in a 2-1 loss to Winnipeg on Tuesday, that proved to be Ruff’s final game.
On Saturday, the boos began late in the second period when Streit opened the scoring with 2:09 remaining. Moulson set up the goal by driving up the right side and patiently waiting for the play to develop.
Streit got a step on Sabres forward Kevin Porter and snapped in Moulson’s pass through the middle into the open right side.
The boos got even louder when Grabner scored on a breakaway, after he intercepted defenseman Christian Ehrhoff’s lazy pass across the middle inside the Islanders blue line.
The only cheer in the final minutes of the second period came when the announcement was made that there was 1 minute left.
The Sabres had more than their share of chances, but were foiled by Nabokov, who was especially sharp in making 13 saves in the second period.
He got his pad out to stop Steve Ott’s one-timer from the slot with 7:25 left and, a few seconds later, somehow got his glove up to deny Tyler Ennis’ backhander from in close.
About two minutes later, Nabokov made a glove save to rob Drew Stafford, who was alone to the right of the net. Nabokov then somehow managed to snag a backhander that Thomas Vanek directed at the net through a screen.
Add it all up, and the 2-0 deficit marked the 18th time in 19 games this season the Sabres haven’t had a lead entering the third period.
By then, fans turned their angry attention to general manager Darcy Regier, by chanting: “Goodbye, Darcy!”
Even Sabres owner Terry Pegula’s daughter, Jessie, got into knocking the Sabres in posts on her Twitter account. During the game she posted: “Let’s just call a spade a spade. The Sabres are just really bad.”
NOTES: Sabres D Alexander Sulzer missed the final two periods because of a lower body injury. — The Islanders recalled G Kevin Poulin from AHL Bridgeport after Rick DiPietro cleared waivers and was assigned to the minor league club. — The Islanders’ power-play unit entered the game having gone 12-for-26 in seven wins and 6-for-45 in its other 10 games (0-9-1). — The Isles, who concluded a three game-road trip, will host Carolina on Sunday to start a seven-game homestand. — Sabres rookie C Mikhail Grigorenko returned after sitting out three games as a healthy scratch.
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)