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Luukkonen Shuts Out Islanders in 4-0 Sabres Victory



New York Islanders Buffalo Sabres game recap

Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen now sits tied for third in the NHL in shutouts, as the Buffalo Sabres trounced the New York Islanders 4-0. Right off the bat, the Sabres had the Islanders on their heels. The consistent pressure on the forecheck was too much for New York to handle, and Buffalo was able to capitalize. The win has vaulted the Sabres within three points of the Islanders’ final Wild Card spot.

It took until halfway through the first period for the Islanders to have a shot attempt. The Sabres were relentless at keeping the puck in the offensive zone, leaving the Islanders dazed. Buffalo didn’t let a scoreless first period frustrate them, rather, they just kept pressing.

Victor Olofsson opened the scoring on the powerplay, as JJ Peterka fed him on a bad angle. Less than four minutes later Dylan Cozens banged home the generous rebound from a Connor Clifton slapshot. Shortly after, Zach Benson tipped a Henri Jokiharju point shot through Ilya Sorokin’s legs. The Sabres coasted from there.

Islanders’ head coach Patrick Roy pulled his goalie with over six minutes left in the third period. After a flurry of chances to seal the game with an empty netter, Rasmus Dahlin floated a pass over the defense and onto Benson’s stick. The 18-year-old forward walked it into the empty net.

Impact Players

Typically a shutout deserves top mention here, but it seemed like a relatively easy night for Luukkonen. The Islanders only generated 1.54 expected goals on 21 shots per Evolving-Hockey, which is about half of the normal standard.

Dylan Cozens was awarded second-star honors and earned every bit of it. The Sabres’ new shutdown line of Jordan Greenway, Cozens, and Benson was tasked with stopping the dangerous trio of Brock Nelson, Bo Horvat, and Mathew Barzal.

Not only did they neutralize them, but they had the Islanders dancing in their defensive zone essentially the entire night. The Sabres recorded 75% of the shot share and over 90% of the shot quality with Greenway, Cozens, and Benson on the ice.

The Difference

The difference is that the Buffalo Sabres are different. Maybe it’s the addition of Bowen Byram. Maybe it’s addition by subtraction. Ultimately, something has clicked for Buffalo. They looked like an entirely different team on this homestand.

“We just have to keep responding,” head coach Don Granato said. “It’s on to the next game, hit the reset button, and hopefully the repeat button.”

Perhaps the biggest difference?

“Every day is urgent.”

What’s Next

The Sabres head to Detroit for a Saturday matinee before a four-game West Coast trip next week. The Red Wings lost to the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday, keeping the Sabres within three points. The Eastern Conference standings are getting tight, with five points separating six teams for the final playoff spot.