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New York Islanders @ Buffalo Sabres

by Dyan LeBourdais / New York Islanders
Team Record: 6-11-4

Last Game: 3-2 W vs. NJD
Season Series: 0-0-0 of 4
Team Record: 13-9-1
Last Game: 5-1 W vs. WSH
Season Series: 0-0-0 of  4
Josh Bailey
The 22-year-old center has found his confidence, and in the last four games or so, it’s shown. Though he’s only posted two goals and three assists for five points in 21 games, he’s beginning to come into his own and generate more offensively while still playing a better defensive game.

"I’ve felt good for quite a while,” Bailey said. “Personally, I feel well. Physically I feel well. It’s always nice to get on the score sheet and I think as of late, I’ve been really happy with my overall game. I just want to keep pushing forward, but it’s a long year. I definitely had a slow start, but over the last 10 games or so I’ve felt pretty good."

On a line with David Ullstrom and Brian Rolston the last few games, Bailey scored an even strength goal against the Devils in Saturday afternoon's matinee helping the Isles to their first road win.
Thomas Vanek leads all Sabres skaters with 26 points scoring 12 goals (6 PPGs, 3 GWGs), 14 assists in 23 games. The 27-year-old winger has posted just one more point than his linemate Jason Pominville (9-16=25) as the pair have both recorded at least one point in all but five games this season.

However, the wingers haven’t been so lucky since being reunited with centerman Jochen Hecht, as they’ve each recorded a goal and an assist in that three-game span. (Hecht was sidelined with a concussion for 20 games.) Thus, it could take a while before the trio finds their chemistry, but once they do, look for them to make a lethal impact on the scoring front.

Hecht scored a shorthanded goal for his first point of the season in the Sabres 5-1 win over the Capitals on Saturday night.
The Islanders earned their first road win of the 2011-12 season Saturday afternoon in a 3-2 victory over the New Jersey Devils in Newark. The Islanders got on the score board first and the teams traded goals, with the Devils leveling the score twice. With 2.1 seconds left of regulation, a video review was required to see if the game was headed for overtime, but Zach Parise’s attempt was deemed “kicked in” and therefore not allowed.

“We gave up too many odd man rushes against New Jersey,” Islanders Head Coach Jack Capuano said. “We have a few guys thinking offense first when it needs to be defense first. A lot of the chances we gave up came off turnovers in the offensive zone and not protecting the puck. That’s one thing you have to do all over the ice.”

The Isles are focused on improving their defensive game and eliminating as many turnovers as possible. Defenseman Andrew MacDonald said the team has learned from their recent games against New Jersey and Philadelphia, pointing to the way they kept positive when the Devils leveled the score.

MacDonald said the Isles are looking to continue their success against New Jersey by stringing together a set of road wins.

“We haven’t had a lot of success on the road and you play half your games there,” MacDonald said. “Playing on the road is a big part of the season, so we’re behind the eight ball a little bit here, in terms of our record and games played, so the good thing is we have an opportunity to catch up on some with games in Buffalo, Chicago and Dallas… Hopefully we can produce some wins.”

Note: Isles veteran forward Jay Pandolfo is out 4-6 weeks with a broken foot he suffered blocking a shot in New Jersey on Saturday. Prior to boarding the flight to Buffalo, Capuano said: "We are going to get a report back on him, but it doesn’t look too good on his foot. We should get more of a report later, but first indications of it looks like he could be out a while."
Season Series: This is the first of four meetings between these clubs. The Isles took three of four games in the 2010-11 regular-season series.

Big Story: The Sabres remain in the thick of the Northeast Division race despite entering their eighth consecutive game without franchise goalie Ryan Miller due to post-concussion symptoms. The Islanders have struggled in the early going, but will look to build off their first road win of the season earned with a 3-2 decision over the Devils this past Saturday.

Team Scope:
Nothing has come easy for the Islanders this season and Saturday's nail-biting affair against New Jersey was no different. While New York appeared destined for the 3-2 win in the closing seconds of regulation, the Islanders were able to rest easy only after a video review determined that the Devils' Zach Parise's goal with 2.1 seconds left would be overturned because of a distinct kicking motion on the play.  (Continue Reading)

The Isles and Sabres last faced each other in a 7-6 overtime win for the Islanders on Feb. 13, 2011. That game, Michael Grabner scored two goals in regulation and tallied his third in overtime for his first hat trick in an Islanders jersey. Jochen Hecht and two goals from Drew Stafford gave the Sabres a 3-2 lead at the end of the first. Nathan Gerbe increased Buffalo’s lead to two goals at 4:31 of the second, but a goal from Blake Comeau and Grabners’ second of the night evened the score. Milan Jurcina and Ty Wishart traded goals with Tyler Myers and Stafford, who also netted a hat trick that night, closing regulation tied at six. Grabner’s third goal of the night came at 2:55 of overtime for the Isles win. Mikko Koskinen got the start, allowing 4 goals on 14 shots, was replaced with Al Montoya at 4:31 into the second period. Montoya made 12 saves on 14 shots.
- Mark Katic - Shoulder (9/24 vs. NJ) - 21 games missed (Out indefinitely)

- Evgeni Nabokov - Groin (11/17) - 5 games missed (Out indefinitely)

- Mark Eaton - Knee (11/21) - 3 games missed (6 weeks)

- Jay Pandolfo - Broken foot (11/26) - 0 games missed (Out 4-6 weeks)
Power Play %: 14.5%
Penalty Kill %: 80.0%
Home Record: 5-6-2
Road Record: 1-5-2
Goals For: 41
Goals Against: 68
Power Play %: 19.3%
Penalty Kill %: 88.4%
Home Record: 6-6-1
Road Record: 7-3-0
Goals For: 67
Goals Against: 61
(Answer from 11/26: Michael Peca scored 142 points in an Islanders sweater.  After Saturday’s matinee with the Devils, Tavares had 137 career points and needs five points to tie Peca for 50th on the Islanders All-Time scoring leaderboard.)
Check out the Islanders depth chart. Nino Niederreiter and Marty Reasoner are back in, Micheal Haley is the healthy scratch. Al Montoya is the starting goaltender, Rick DiPietro will back up.

Sabres (Expected) Lineups
Forwards: Vanek-Hecht-Pominville, Gerbe-Roy-Kassian, Leino-Adam-Stafford, Ellis-Gaustad-Kaleta

Sekera-Leopold, Gragnani-Ehrhoff, Regehr-McNabb

Enroth, MacIntyre

Islanders Head Coach Jack Capuano: "Every win is so important right now, so for us we can hopefully build off that (win against New Jersey). Buffalo obviously, they’ve scored a few goals in the last few games. I watched the Washington game. We know we have a test in front of us and we have to play smart on the road and do the little things. The more we continue to do the little things we give ourselves a chance to have success."

Cory Wright contributed to this report
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