Strome helps Islanders beat Sabres 5-1

December 24, 2016

NEW YORK (AP) — The New York Islanders are hoping their sharp effort against the Buffalo Sabres is a sign of things to come after a so-so start to the season.

Ryan Strome had a goal and an assist, Thomas Greiss made 28 saves and the Islanders beat the Sabres 5-1 on Friday night.

John Tavares had a power-play goal for New York, and Andrew Ladd, Anthony Beauvillier and Calvin de Haan also scored. Defenseman Travis Hamonic had two assists as the Islanders registered four or more goals in consecutive games for the first time this season.

“This was one of the most complete games we’ve played,” Islanders coach Jack Capuano said. “Start to finish, our work ethic was there. Same with our battle level. And our D did a great job.”

Greiss was in line for a shutout before Zemgus Girgensons scored with 1:03 left in the third period, and the goaltender improved to 6-2 in his last eight games.

“We looked like a tired team,” Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said. “When you are confronted with stiff defense and you are confronted with a guy in your face, you have to be willing to put the puck by him. The Islanders played the way we expected them to play, a tough game, they are a hard-working team. We forced things, and turned the puck over too much.”

Anders Nilsson had 27 saves in his 10th start of the season for Buffalo (12-13-8).

“We didn’t play at the level we can play,” Nilsson said. “We were flat the whole game. We gave up too many odd-man rushes, way too many scoring chances against, and unfortunately I wasn’t able to make the saves that the team needed.”

The Islanders (13-14-6) honored Kyle Okposo with a video tribute during a stoppage in the opening period. It was Okposo’s first game against New York since he left the team for a $42 million, seven-year deal with Buffalo in the offseason.

Okposo played the first 529 games of his career with the Islanders, collecting 139 goals and 230 assists in nine seasons.

“I didn’t know where to go. I hadn’t been down to the visitor’s room before so that was a little strange not going to the other side but I’m finding my way around quickly,” Okposo said about his first appearance in Brooklyn as a member of the visiting team.

“Just driving to the rink today and those emotions start to come back a little bit,” Okposo said. “I started to think about the fact that both of my kids were born here and I grew up here.”

Beauvillier opened the scoring at 12:05 of the first period with his fourth goal of the season, redirecting a Hamonic shot past Nilsson. Shane Prince also assisted on the play.

Strome made it 2-0 in the second, knocking his own rebound past Nilsson for his fifth of the season.

“I think we are just playing fast, we are getting out of our own zone quick,” Strome said. “We are playing a good transition game. I think it’s the strength of our team, have to master our trade and keep doing simple things.”

Ladd and de Haan added insurance goals in the third. Ladd fired a wrist shot past Nilsson’s glove and de Haan buried a pretty feed from Alan Quine.

The slumping Sabres dropped their fourth straight game heading into the NHL’s holiday break.

“We have to figure out what kind of team we want to be,” Sabres captain Brian Gionta said. “We have to be a simple team, creating offense, passing and executing. We need this time to regroup.”

NOTES: Islanders F Casey Cizikas missed his fourth consecutive game with an upper-body injury. ... The Islanders scratched G Jean-Francois Berube and F Stephen Gionta. ... Marcus Foligno became the 75th player to appear in 300 regular-season games for the Sabres. Among current Sabres, only Tyler Ennis (380) has played more. ... Sabres D Cody Franson missed his second straight game with an undisclosed injury.


Sabres: Visit the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday.

Islanders: Host the Washington Capitals on Tuesday.