Bjork’s 2 goals, shootout winner lead Sabres over Islanders
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Anders Bjork scored Buffalo’s last two goals in regulation and then had the deciding shootout goal, lifting the Sabres to a 4-3 victory over the New York Islanders on Tuesday.
Cody Eakin also scored for the last-place Sabres, who rallied past the playoff-bound Islanders for the second straight night. Victor Olofsson had two assists.
“We did a good job bringing energy,” Bjork said. “With the young legs and the young bodies we have on this team, we have the ability to stay energized the whole game and start making plays and breaking teams down.”
Sabres goaltender Michael Houser made 45 saves and stopped all three shots he faced in the shootout in his second NHL game.
“It’s incredible,” Bjork said. “He’s done just an amazing job. You’ve got to really tip your hat to that guy. He came in here and did his job so well, and we’re all so proud of him and excited for him.”
Cal Clutterbuck had a goal and an assist for the Islanders, who lost ground in trying to secure home-ice advantage for the playoffs. Anthony Beauvillier and Ryan Pulock also scored, and Ilya Sorokin made 28 saves.
Bjork brought Buffalo back from a two-goal deficit. He scored the tying goal on a wrist shot from the right circle with just over nine minutes left in the third period. Bjork tipped Colin Miller’s slap shot past Sorokin to make it 3-2 late in the second.
In his first career shootout attempt, Bjork sent a wrist shot over Sorokin’s glove.
“He’s got a lot of talent and he’s getting more and more comfortable every day,” Sabres coach Don Granato said. “It’s all adding up and it’s fun to watch when that happens.”
Houser got his first shootout victory and improved to 2-0 in the NHL after playing 8 1/2 years in the minor leagues. He made 20 saves in the first period.
“He helped us weather a storm until we got our legs and got to our game,” Granato said. “He was great, and then it was great in the end that we didn’t win the shootout by scoring the goal. We won the shootout by making a save, and that’s fitting with how he started the game.”
Clutterbuck gave the Islanders a 3-1 lead midway through the second when he scored on a short-handed breakaway after Buffalo’s Jacob Bryson lost the puck while falling down.
The Islanders squandered a two-goal lead on consecutive nights in Buffalo. Entering the back-to-back set, the Islanders were 15-0-1 when leading after two periods this season.
“Sometimes that happens when you play teams that don’t have anything to lose,” Clutterbuck said. “They can hang out behind you a little bit. But we’ve got to be better than that. We know that.”
Coach Barry Trotz said the Islanders played better than they did in losing 4-2 on Monday.
“Ideally, we’d like to win,” Trotz said. “But we were more engaged, which is a step in the right direction.”
Clutterbuck set up Pulock for a shot from the point that put the Islanders ahead in the opening stages of the second period.
Buffalo led for 26 seconds after Jeff Skinner set up Eakin for a one-timer from the left slot with four minutes left in the first.
Beauvillier tied the score with his 14th goal of the season on a feed from Josh Bailey.
MANNING THE CREASE
Buffalo signed goaltender Stefanos Lekkas for the remainder of the season after calling him up from the minors on a professional tryout deal prior to Monday’s game. If Lekkas appears in one of the final two games, he will be the seventh goalie to play this season for the Sabres, setting a franchise record.
Sabres goalies Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen (lower body), Carter Hutton (lower body) and Dustin Tokarski (family matter) are out for the season, Granato said. Linus Ullmark (lower body) is skating but not ready to return.
Islanders: Scratched C Matthew Barzal, LW Matt Martin and RW Leo Komarov for rest. Barzal, who leads the Islanders with 41 points, sat out for the first time since the 2016-17 season. ... C Jean-Gabriel Pageau returned after he was rested for Monday’s game. LW Michael Dal Colle and LW Ross Johnston also entered the lineup.
Sabres: D Colin Miller replaced D Will Borgen (rest). ... F Brett Murray was reassigned to the taxi squad.
Islanders: Host New Jersey on Thursday.
Sabres: At Pittsburgh on Thursday.
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