RECAP: Mathew Barzal, New York Islanders too strong for slumping Buffalo Sabres

Mar 6, 2021; Uniondale, New York, USA; Buffalo Sabres goalie Carter Hutton (40) makes a save against New York Islanders left wing Michael Dal Colle (28) during the first period at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Mathew Barzal scored in spectacular fashion to ignite four-goal, second period on Saturday afternoon, lifting the New York Islanders to a 5-2 win over the reeling Buffalo Sabres in Uniondale, N.Y.

Brock Nelson scored the go-ahead goal in the second while Cal Clutterbuck and defenseman Scott Mayfield also tallied in the period for the Islanders, who are 6-0-1 in their last seven games. Captain Anders Lee added a goal in the third.

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Semyon Varlamov made 20 saves to preserve the victory.

Defenseman Jacob Bryson scored his first NHL goal and Sam Reinhart also tallied for the Sabres, who have lost six straight (0-5-1) and are 2-9-1 since returning from a COVID-19 pause on Feb. 15. Goalie Carter Hutton recorded 24 saves.

The Sabres went ahead right away after a turnover deep in the Islanders zone by Casey Cizikas led to Bryson’s goal just 33 seconds into the first period.

The Islanders took control with three goals in just under a span of five minutes in the second period.

Barzal’s highlight-reel goal began when he outskated defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen to Jordan Eberle’s clearing pass. Ristolainen tried to keep pace before he fell and slid behind the Sabres’ net. Barzal tucked a backhand between his legs and past Hutton at the 3:51 mark.

The Islanders took the lead for good just 85 seconds later. Nelson got open in the slot, took a pass from Anthony Beauvillier and fired a shot beyond the stick of Colin Miller and into the upper corner of the net.

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The fourth line combined to extend the lead to 3-1 with 11:15 left, when Matt Martin passed the puck beyond Sabres captain Jack Eichel to Clutterbuck, who beat Hutton from point-blank range.

Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Matthew Dal Colle teamed up to win a battle for the puck near center ice to set up Mayfield’s goal with 4:31 remaining. After Pageau and Dal Colle outlasted Miller and Victor Oloffson, the puck bounced to Cizikas, who passed to Mayfield to set up the defenseman’s shot past a sprawling Hutton.

Reinhart redirected a shot by defenseman Rasmus Dahlin 52 seconds into the third, but Lee ended any hopes of a Sabres comeback by putting back his own rebound just 1:23 later.

–Field Level Media