Josh Bailey and Hudson Fasching each had a goal and an assist in the third quarter, and the New York Islanders beat the Buffalo Sabers 3-2 on Tuesday night.
Casey Cizikas also scored for New York and Ilya Sorokin made 22 saves as the Islanders improved to 10-3-3 in their last 16 games. New York is in position for the first wild card spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
“I thought tonight wasn’t our best start, but it was almost like we flipped a switch in the second half of the game,” New York’s Zach Parise said. “We started putting pressure on them. In the first period, we backed off, we didn’t stay on their defenses, we didn’t really force them to turn the puck around. The last half of the game, we did. We were a bit more aggressive when they had the record. We made them uncomfortable and turned it around.”
Dylan Cozens and Kyle Okposo scored and Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen finished with 36 saves for the Sabres, who have lost four of five.
Fasching gave the Islanders a 3-2 lead when he led a puck fluttering over the goal line with his knee at 7:37 of the third. Initially, the goal was disallowed due to a distinct kicking motion, but after lengthy review, that decision was overturned.
“I was just going online,” Fasching said. “I was looking for a rebound and all of a sudden the puck came flying at me. A kind of knee-jerk reaction.”
( Matthews’ late power play goal gives Leafs victory over Devils )
The Islanders improved to 27-6-3 this season when they scored at least three goals, including game-winners.
Bailey gave the Islanders a 2-1 lead when he hit a rebound at 1:51 of the third. Alexander Romanov’s shot deflected off Cizikas and Bailey was able to return the loose puck for the eighth of the season.
“You have to be in your top 20 in the third and we’ve found a way to do it,” Islanders forward Anders Lee said. “It’s part of our style, we started to wear down the teams.”
Okposo erased the Islanders’ lead some three minutes later. The Sabers captain fired a well-placed wrist shot just inside the blue line past Sorokin’s glove.
the striped express
The Daily News sports editors curate the best Yankees stories of the week from our award-winning columnists and writers. Delivered to your inbox every Wednesday.
It marked the first time the Islanders had allowed a third-period goal in nine games, outscoring their opponents 15–1 during that stretch.
Cizikas buried a loose puck near leveling the game at 1-1 at 12:38 of the second period. Fasching’s pass from behind the net deflected off Sabers defender Owen Power’s skid straight to Cizikas at the top of the box. Romanov also helped.
“We knew it was going to be a tough match, the second night in a row,” Okposo said. “I think the fatigue started a little bit in the second, just a kind of mental fatigue. We started to make some mistakes. … We had chances to win the game and tie the game again and we just didn’t capitalize.”
Cozens opened the scoring five minutes into the second half with his 25th of the season. The 22-year-old forward, who signed a seven-year, $49.7 million contract extension in February, stepped into the offensive zone, split two Islanders players and fired a wrist shot under Sorokin’s blocker. Henrik Jokiharju attended.
Islanders forward Jean-Gabriel Pageau continued to skate with the team but remains on injured reserve with an upper-body injury that has cost him 10 games. … Sabers forward Tyson Jost returned to the lineup after missing a game with an undisclosed injury.
Islanders: Visit Pittsburgh on Thursday.
Sabers: Host Dallas on Thursday.