(7:30 p.m. ET, TV: FSN NY, VERSUS, TSN | Radio: Bloomberg 1130) The Islanders look to build off their 3-2 Game Two win over the Buffalo Sabres in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series when they return tonight to the Nassau Coliseum in Game Three.
After sitting back to start Game One, the Islanders came out attacking in Game Two, and the Sabres didn"t know what hit them. Compared to the 11-1 shot total in the first period of Game One, Game Two was the polar opposite as the Islanders out-shot Buffalo 16-10 and took an early 2-0 lead.
The Islanders also received a boost when Rick DiPietro made his triumphant return to the lineup, and his importance to the team was seen instantly.
Trent Hunter got the first, just 3:07 into the game when Mike Sillinger"s shot deflected off Hunter"s shin pad for his second career playoff goal.
At 11:03 of the opening frame, Bruno Gervais" wrist shot from the point snuck through the pads of Ryan Miller for his first career playoff goal and his first of the season.
DiPietro made his best save of the game on Thomas Vanek, who found himself all alone in front of the net. After delaying and getting DiPietro down, Vanek went to the backhand, but DiPietro lunged to make the save.
The Sabres cut the lead in half when Toni Lydman scored off a mad scramble in front with just over one minute remaining in the first period.
After being caught flat-footed in the first period, the Sabres found their legs and took it to the Islanders in period two, garnering a 14-7 shot advantage, but DiPietro stood his ground, not allowing a goal.
Buffalo did get the equalizer early in the third period, setting up an exciting finish to a hard-fought tilt.
The Islanders took advantage of Maxim Afinogenov"s second penalty of the game at 7:58 of the third period. Tom Poti laid a pass across to Marc-Andre Bergeron, who let one of his Howitzer shots go, which got past Miller for the game-winner.
After three years, the Islanders return to the Coliseum to play in a postseason game for the first time since April 14, 2004, when the Islanders lost 3-0 to the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.
The Islanders have an impressive record of 76-38 at home, all-time in the playoffs. Their last home win came on April 28, 2002 against Toronto in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, forcing a Game Seven back in Toronto.
During the regular season, the Islanders were nine games above .500 at home, while the Sabres were an equally impressive 13 games above .500 on the road,
Chris King and Steve Mears have the call on Bloomberg Radio 1130, while Howie Rose and Billy Jaffe can be seen tonight on MSG. You can catch John Forslund and Andy Brickley on VERSUS, and for those up in Canada watching on TSN, you'll see the tandem of Gord Miller and Pierre McGuire.
For those of you not in the New York area, you can catch King and Mears' Bloomberg Radio broadcast on XM Satellite Radio, channel 206.
BELOW ARE CHANNEL LISTINGS FOR FSN NY ON LONG ISLAND
FSN NY: 72
FSN NY: 624
FSN NY: 413
FSN NY: 725
FSN NY: 69
DiPIETRO RETURNS TO LINEUP:
After missing the last eight games of the regular season and the first game of the playoffs with a concussion, Rick DiPietro returned to the Islanders line up on Saturday night and started in net in Game Two. DiPietro played the entire game and stopped 32 of 34 Buffalo shots and was named the game's first star. It was DiPietro's second career playoff win. This season, DiPietro tied a single-season franchise record with 32 victories.
The Islanders have two members of the team who have once been a part of the Sabres' organization. They are: Ted Nolan (head coach: 1995-96 - 1996-97), Miroslav Satan (1996-07 - 2003-04). On the Sabres' side, they have two members of their organization who once were a member of the Islanders. They are: Darcy Regier (player: 1982-83 - 1983-84; director of hockey administration: 1985-86 - 1889-90; assistant coach: 1989-90 - 1990-91; assistant GM: 1992-93 - 1996-97; director of player personnel: 1994-95 - 1995-96) and Tim Connolly (1999-00 - 2000-01). Connolly was the Islanders first round draft selection (fifth overall) in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft.
Islanders - Trent Hunter, Bruno Gervais, Arron Asham, Marc-Andre Bergeron, 1 goal; Tom Poti, 2 assists, 2 points; Brendan Witt, 6 PIM
Buffalo - Chris Drury, Brian Campbell, 2 goals; Dainius Zubrus, 3 assists; Zubrus, Campbell, 3 points; Maxim Afinogenov, 4 PIM.
Islanders - Power play: 14.3 percent. Penalty killing: 81.8 percent
Buffalo - Power play: 18.2 percent. Penalty killing: 85.7 percent.
Islanders - Rick DiPietro (1-0, 2.00 GAA, .941 SV%); Wade Dubielewicz (0-1, 4.07, .886)
Buffalo - Ryan Miller (1-1, 2.02, .925)
Islanders - 92 points, 4th place, Atlantic Division
Buffalo - 113 points, 1st place, Northeast Division
Islanders - Jason Blake, 40 goals, 69 points; Tom Poti, 38 assists; Brendan Witt, 131 PIM
Buffalo - Thomas Vanek, 43 goals; Daniel Briere, 63 assists, 95 points; Adam Mair, 128 PIM.
Islanders - Power play: 18.1 percent. Penalty killing: 81.8 percent
Buffalo - Power play: 17.4 percent. Penalty killing: 81.3 percent.
Islanders - Rick DiPietro (32-19-9, 2.58 GAA, .919 SV%); Wade Dubielewicz (4-1-0, 2.06 GAA, .934 SV%)
Buffalo - Ryan Miller (40-16-6, 2.73, .911); Ty Conklin (3-5-2, 3.34, .879)
2006-07 SEASON SERIES:
Islanders - 22-13-6 at home
Buffalo - 25-12-4 on the road
34 Wade Dubielewicz
39 Rick DiPietro
3 Tom Poti
6 Sean Hill
8 Bruno Gervais
14 Chris Campoli
32 Brendan Witt
47 Marc-Andre Bergeron
7 Trent Hunter
10 Richard Park
11 Andy Hilbert
15 Jeff Tambellini
18 Mike Sillinger
20 Richard Zednik
25 Viktor Kozlov
27 Randy Robitaille
45 Arron Asham
55 Jason Blake
79 Alexei Yashin
81 Miroslav Satan
94 Ryan Smyth
30 Ryan Miller
35 Ty Conklin
5 Toni Lydman
6 Jaroslav Spacek
10 Henrik Tallinder
27 Teppo Numminen
38 Nathan Paetsch
45 Dmitri Kalinin
51 Brian Campbell
9 Derek Roy
12 Ales Kotalik
15 Dainius Zubrus
19 Tim Connolly
20 Daniel Paille
21 Drew Stafford
22 Adam Mair
23 Chris Drury
26 Thomas Vanek
29 Jason Pominville
48 Daniel Briere
55 Jochen Hecht
61 Maxim Afinogenov
76 Andrew Peters