Jordan Eberle's first goal as an Islander was a beauty.
Eberle corralled Anders Lee's pass from between his legs onto his stick before ripping a backhander top shelf past Robin Lehner. It was a top-line move from the Islanders' new top-line right wing and held up as the game-winner in a 3-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres at KeyBank Center. With the win, the Islanders improved to 5-0-2 in preseason play.
Video: NYI@BUF: Eberle beats Lehner with nifty backhander
"Barzy made a great play to keep it in and Lee made a good play to get it over, so I just had to try to find the short side and sometimes backhands can be a little deceiving," Eberle said. "The biggest thing in preseason is you want to find your game and obviously scoring and making plays gives you confidence. It's just nice to find the net and help contribute."
For all the talk about Eberle's previous chemistry with John Tavares, it was a nice flash between Eberle and his opposite winger, and hopefully a sign of things to come between them this season.
BARZAL WITH THREE ASSISTS:
Mathew Barzal had a team-high three points (3A) on Friday night as he continues to build a strong case for the Islanders to keep him at the start of the regular season. Barzal now leads the Islanders with six points (3G, 3A) in four preseason games.
"He was excellent tonight," Head Coach Doug Weight said. "He's created a lot of offense, he's skating well and he's making some good decisions, too. There were a couple of shifts where maybe he got over extended, but those are things to get better, but he played another good game."
Barzal was between veterans Andrew Ladd and Josh Bailey on Friday night and on the Islanders' top power-play unit. The 20-year-old said he feels more comfortable as camp wears on and that the team in general is building chemistry.
"I thought everyone had a little bit of chemistry with everybody, so it was just nice to come in here and get a win," Barzal said. "They were playing a lot of their starters, so it felt a bit like an NHL game."
LEE GETS FIRST OF PRESEASON:
Lee also scored his first of the preseason on Friday night, sneaking a wrister through Lehner to open the scoring in the first period. Lee, who scored a career-high 34 goals last season, made no mistake from inside 10 feet, preserving a solid keep-in by Nick Leddy at the blue line and a nice cross-ice dish from Barzal.
Video: NYI@BUF: Lee finishes two-on-one rush with nice goal
HALAK SOLID AGAIN:
Neither goalie was busy on Friday, but Halak stayed focused and stopped 20-of-21 shots to improve to 2-0-0. His only blemish was on Sam Reinhart's second period goal, which was essentially a one-on-one chance from the slot after an errant pass deflected off a skate and right to the Sabres center.
Video: NYI@BUF: Halak scrambles to keep Isles ahead
Halak has now stopped 76-of-78 shots in the preseason, allowing two goals in eight periods of work.
The Islanders wrap up the preseason on Sunday evening in Phildelphia. Puck drop is at 5 p.m.