Slumping Islanders Close Three-Goal Gap, But Fall To Buffalo

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Sam Reinhart poked in a rebound with 4:14 left, and the Buffalo Sabres edged the New York Islanders 4-3 on Thursday night after squandering a three-goal lead.

Jack Eichel and Evan Rodrigues each had a goal and an assist for Buffalo, and Ryan O’Reilly also scored. Robin Lehner stopped 26 shots to help Buffalo salvage the finale of a five-game homestand after going 0-3-1 in its previous four games.

John Tavares, Anders Lee and Ross Johnston scored for New York, which had gone 5-0-3 in its previous eight trips to Buffalo. Jaroslav Halak stopped 18 shots.

The Islanders squandered an opportunity to jump ahead of idle Columbus for the second wild card in the Eastern Conference. They dropped to 1-3-1 in their last five games.

Reinhart also had two assists. He got the game-winner 73 seconds after Lee tied it at 3.

Eichel began the play when his shot from the right boards hit a skate and caromed into the slot to Rodrigues, whose shot was stopped by Halak. Reinhart was left alone in front to knock in the rebound.

The Islanders have allowed three or more goals in 10 of their past 11 games.

New York fell behind 3-0 in the second period before it started to rally. Tavares swept in a loose puck at 13:06, and the Islanders added two more in the third.

Johnston snapped a shot from the slot over Lehner’s left shoulder with 12:30 remaining.

Lee tied it with a power-play goal with 5:27 left. With Eichel in the penalty box for tripping, Josh Bailey’s shot from the right circle was deflected wide of net. The puck went to Lee, who jammed it inside the right post.

Buffalo was being outshot 6-0 when Eichel opened the scoring 7:41 into the game.

With Reinhart drawing three defenders to him driving up the middle, he crossed the blue line and fed a pass to a wide-open Eichel driving up the right side. Eichel skated into the circle and snapped a shot in off the far post.

Another defensive miscue led to Rodrigues’ third goal just under six minutes later. Marco Scandella’s shot from the blue line sailed just wide of the left post and the puck caromed off the end board. It went directly to Rodrigues, who was left untouched in the slot and directed it inside the right post.

The Sabres led 2-0 after one despite being outshot 10-4.

O’Reilly scored a power-play goal 7:18 into the second period by tipping in Rasmus Ristolainen’s shot from inside the blue line.

NOTES: Sabres D Jake McCabe will miss three to four weeks after surgery on Wednesday to repair a thumb injury. … Sabres C Johan Larsson returned after serving a two-game suspension for cross-checking Florida’s Vincent Trocheck in the face last week. … Islanders coach Doug Weight left open the possibility of D Johnny Boychuk returning as early as Friday, when New York hosts the Red Wings. Boychuk missed his 18th game with a lower-body injury. … Buffalo has scored a power-play goal in 12 of its past 17 games.

UP NEXT

Islanders: Host Detroit on Friday.

Sabres: Travel to play the Boston Bruins on Saturday.

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