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game recap

Islanders score four in second, hand Sabres sixth straight loss

Barzal's between-the-legs goal sparks New York, which extends point streak to seven

by Brian Compton @BComptonNHL / Deputy Managing Editor

Barzal goes between the legs

BUF@NYI: Barzal scores beautiful goal

Mathew Barzal fights off the pressure from the Sabres' defense, and scores a sweet between-the-legs goal to tie the game

  • 00:46 •

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- The New York Islanders used a four-goal second period to win their fourth straight game, 5-2 against the Buffalo Sabres at Nassau Coliseum on Saturday.

Mathew Barzal and Scott Mayfield each had a goal and an assist, and Semyon Varlamov made 20 saves for the Islanders (14-6-4), who have a seven-game point streak (6-0-1) and are the only team in the NHL without a regulation loss at home (9-0-2).

"It's just nice being at home; I think any team can attest to that," Barzal said. "You're comfortable, you've got your own stall, your own locker, you're at home eating well. I think we've been all right on the road as well (5-6-2), but just something about being at the Coliseum and just maybe probably having a little bit of extra juice. It's a tough thing to explain, but it's just really comfortable being at home."

Jacob Bryson and Sam Reinhart scored, and Carter Hutton made 24 saves for the Sabres (6-13-3), who have lost six in a row. 

The loss came one day after general manager Kevyn Adams called out Buffalo's competitiveness and said everything is being evaluated, including coach Ralph Krueger.

"It's just mental toughness at the moment," Krueger said. "I mean, the National Hockey League this year is not a league of people running each other over, and without the fans in the building, the physicality is definitely in a different place than it would usually be. We're losing battles in 1-on-1 situations that are hockey situations.

"It's not the toughness of old, it's the toughness of new, which is you've got to be inside, you've got to grind it out, you've got to be persistent and you've got to win your individual battles."

Video: BUF@NYI: Eichel links with Bryson for goal

Bryson scored his first NHL goal 33 seconds into the first period on a long wrist shot near the left boards to make it 1-0.

"It was a great feeling, especially 30 seconds into the game," Bryson said. "That's how you want to start games. It's just a good feeling to have that monkey off your back going into a full 60 minutes."

The Islanders responded with three goals in a 4:54 span in the second period to take a 3-1 lead.

Barzal scored his ninth of the season to tie it 1-1 at 3:51 when he outraced Rasmus Ristolainen to a loose puck in the right circle, then went backhand to forehand for a between-the-legs shot that beat Hutton's outstretched left pad.

"I mean, I'd probably put it in the top two or three of my career," Barzal said. "I actually really haven't even seen it yet. I saw it once quickly, so I'll check it out here in a bit.

"It all happened pretty quick. It's kind of a rolling puck there, so I just tried to put it to an area that he can't get his stick on it or anything. Once I knew I kind of had body position, I kind of felt him a little off-balance and took it to the net. I knew we were so far ahead of the play that I probably had a little bit of time. I felt like Hutton was down. It's kind of a move that you do instinctual and you kind of just mess around with it in practice and you rarely do it in a game, so it's a lot of instincts and just kind of being in the moment and just reacting."

Video: BUF@NYI: Nelson buries quick snipe

Brock Nelson gave the Islanders a 2-1 lead on a wrist shot from the left circle at 5:16 of the second, and Cal Clutterbuck made it 3-1 on a one-timer from Matt Martin at 8:45. Mayfield scored off a cross-ice pass from Casey Cizikas in the right circle at 15:29 to extend the lead to 4-1.

"We knew they were going to come out with a little bit of jump, just after last game (a 5-2 win Thursday)," Mayfield said. "I liked our response. We came out in the second and just did what we had to do."

Reinhart redirected Rasmus Dahlin's shot from the right point 52 seconds into the third period to cut it to 4-2. Anders Lee scored on his rebound to give New York a 5-2 lead at 2:15.

"I think it's just been a struggle for us," Sabres defenseman Brandon Montour said. "Obviously, everyone is frustrated right now with the way everything is going, but it's a tough league. You have to bring it every night. If you don't, the score shows up like that."

NOTES: The teams will complete the three-game set here Sunday. ... It was the first time the Islanders scored four goals in a second period since Feb. 7, 2016 (an 8-1 win against the Edmonton Oilers). … The Sabres had fewer than 30 shots on goal for the fifth straight game. … New York is 5-0-0 against Buffalo this season and has won eight in a row dating to March 30, 2019.  

Video: Barzal scores amazing goal in win

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