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Rolston makes home coaching debut vs. Isles

by Brian Hunter

ISLANDERS (7-9-1) at SABRES (6-11-1)


Last 10: New York 3-7-0; Buffalo 3-7-0

Season series: Second of three meetings. The Islanders badly outshot the Sabres 43-15 at Nassau Coliseum on Feb. 9, but the visitors still came away with a 3-2 victory thanks to the brilliance of Ryan Miller in goal.

Big story: Ron Rolston makes his home debut as Buffalo coach and takes a second crack at his first NHL win. Rolston was named to the position Wednesday after Lindy Ruff was fired, and he made his debut behind the bench in Thursday's 3-1 loss in Toronto.

Team Scope:

Islanders: Despite residing at the bottom of the Atlantic Division, where the team has finished each of the past five seasons, New York ranks in the top 10 of the League in offense and has shown some pluck in coming back to win several recent games. That was the case on Thursday, as the Islanders dug themselves holes of 2-0 and 3-1 before rallying on Matt Moulson's second power-play goal of the night and a score by Frans Nielsen that forced overtime. That's where Thomas Hickey scored his first NHL goal at the 3:12 mark for a thrilling 4-3 victory.

"I don't think I've ever had a better feeling in hockey," said Hickey, a 2007 first-round pick by the Kings who was picked up on waivers on Jan. 15. "That's special and the setting was unique playing here and being in overtime. I've waited a long time to get that opportunity. It's just a very good feeling and I'm thankful."

Sabres: Rolston got a first-hand look Thursday at some of the problems that have plagued Buffalo, dropping the team into the Northeast basement and getting Ruff dismissed after more than 14 seasons as coach. The Sabres entered Friday having allowed the most shots per game in the League (33.6) and with the fifth-worst team goals-against average (3.28). Miller faced 36 shots against the Maple Leafs and stopped 33, but with the Sabres' only offense coming courtesy of a Tyler Ennis goal in the first period, they lost their third in a row.

"I think we got better in some areas, I really did," Rolston said. "We did a little bit of work this morning before the pregame skate -- as much as much as we could without overwhelming them with all kinds of different things. I saw some positive things."

Who's hot: Moulson has six power-play goals already, second in the League only to Pittsburgh's James Neal, who has eight.

Injury report: New York defenseman Matt Carkner (lower body) and forward Jesse Joensuu (sports hernia) are on injured reserve. … Buffalo defensemen Jordan Leopold (upper body) and Andrej Sekera (charley horse) are day-to-day, while forward Ville Leino (hip) is on injured reserve.

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