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Isles Blow Two Goal Lead in 4-3 Loss to Buffalo | February
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Uniondale, NY --
The Islanders lost a crucial game to the Buffalo Sabres, 4-3, last night at Nassau Coliseum. After jumping ahead by two goals early in the game, Buffalo was able to close the gap and win in the shootout.

“Unfortunately we couldn’t come away with two points,” Al Montoya said after the game. “We knew it was going to be a tough weekend. We played well last night, coming in here against a good team, huge points on the line and we didn’t have many chance. And when we did we beard down and made them count. Just there is going to be momentum throughout the game.”

The Islanders did not start the first period the way they wanted to. They looked tired from having just played the night before. The Islanders managed to power through it and get the games opening goal. A bad give away behind the net allowed Michael Grabner to feed Frans Nielsen in front. Nathan Gerbe countered it with a goal for the Sabres four minutes later. Josh Bailey would put the Islanders back on top scoring off his own rebound just as an Islanders penalty was expiring. Frans Nielsen added his second goal of the night to make it a 3-1 Islander lead with 2:42 left if the first period.
Things started to take a turn for the worse when Derek Roy cut the Isles lead to one off a soft goal that snuck by Montoya. Things continued to get worse in the third with the Sabres constantly pressuring the Islanders. Midway through, Travis Hamonic was forced to leave the game after he was hit in the nose with the puck. He was taken to the hospital for evaluation. Then, with 8:14 left in the game, Paul Gaustad score the tying goal.

The Islanders play did pick up after the late goal, allowing them to create chance, but Ryan Miller kept them off the board. The overtime period was the same, as the Isles could not beat Miller. A late power play chance in OT did not help either.

PA Parenteau and Nielsen missed on their shootout attempts, while Brad Boyes and Jason Pominville buried their shots to give Buffalo the win.

The Islanders were quick to credit the Ryan Miller and the Sabres play after the game.

“They broke us down, they grinded it out, they used their points,” Islanders head coach Jack Capuano said. “We had 24 blocked shots in the game, I think, maybe more than that. It was a game of surges tonight, there was momentum shifted both ways, but I thought their best players, some of their top guys, were pretty good tonight.”

“Buffalo is a good team and they came out strong in the last period,” Captain Mark Streit added. “But still we had the PP and lost of scoring chances. Some times [Miller] didn’t even see the puck coming it just hit him, but credit to him he played a really good game.”

And while the Islanders were quick to compliment Buffalo’s play, they were just as quick to point out that they should have been able to hold the lead.

“They stuck with it, gotta give them credit, but a 3-1 lead we gotta bear down a little more,” PA Parentau commented after the game. Prior to last night’s game the Islanders were 12-0-5 after leading after the first period. “

“I was hoping we would show up and play better after a win yesterday,” said a visible frustrated Frans Nielsen. “The first period was not good; I mean we were lucky to be up 3-1. Gave up a tough one in the end their and then third period was just not good enough. We didn’t start playing until they score the [tying] goal and then we started playing hockey again. We can’t just sit back when we lead.”

The Islanders played the night before in Ottawa, where they won in overtime off a Mark Eaton goal. After the game, they were given the chance to use that fact as an excuse after the game, but no player or coach used it.

“That shouldn’t be an excuse,” Nielsen responded when asked. “I think we worked hard, but they played good today too and we just gotta play better with the lead.”

“I’m not a big believer in that at all,” Capuano told reporters. “I think back-to-back games are something that everybody has to do and I think they use that as an excuse a lot of times. I thought we chased the puck tonight. I thought they were real good in the offensive zone, they had great separation, they used the back of the net, they turned our coverage. With that said we’re still up three to one. We had our chances and, to their credit, they played hard and found a way.”