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Sabres 4, Islanders 3, SO @NHL

UNIONDALE, N.Y. (AP) - The Buffalo Sabres never gave up and earned two points for their effort.

Ales Kotalik and Tim Connolly scored in a shootout, giving Buffalo a 4-3 victory over the New York Islanders on Wednesday night.

Kotalik tied the score at 3 with 2:49 left in the third period. Chris Drury and Jochen Hecht also scored for the Sabres, 4-1-0-1 in their past six games. Martin Biron stopped 23 shots, one night after Buffalo lost at home to the New York Rangers in a shootout.

``This was a huge win for us,'' Kotalik said. ``We had luck on our side tonight.''

Mike York, Brent Sopel and Jason Blake had goals for the Islanders, beaten for the first time in 62 games when leading after two periods. They were 53-0-8 in their previous 61 games when they had the lead after 40 minutes.

Kotalik's tying goal came when he beat Sopel to the outside on a rush down left wing, then flipped a backhand under the crossbar.

``I think their defenseman didn't think I could beat him wide,'' Kotalik said, ``but once I got a step on him, I was by him and had the chance for the shot.''

Sopel was upset with himself for that play.

``That was a joke,'' he said. ``It was my fault all the way. I cost the team a point. I'll take full responsibility - you can't let a guy beat you like that.''

Buffalo dominated in overtime but could not win it until Kotalik and Connolly, its first and third shooters, respectively, put backhands past goalie Rick DiPietro to win the shootout 2-0.

Alexei Yashin and Blake missed their shootout attempts for New York. DiPietro made 25 saves.

The Islanders broke through at 15:04 of the first period when defenseman Chris Campoli wound up at the left point and rocketed a slap-pass to York, who was at the right crease for a redirect.

The Sabres tied it at 17:29 when Drury found a loose puck in the crease during a power play and backhanded it home for the first man-advantage goal the Islanders have allowed in 38 chances. The previous power-play goal against them scored was Vladimir Malakhov's score for New Jersey on Nov. 8.

The Islanders scored twice in the first five minutes of the second period to go up 3-1.

At 3:30, Sopel tipped Trent Hunter's pass out past Biron. Just 52 seconds later, Blake sent a shot from the left side by Biron.

Hecht answered at 5:48 with a tip-in.

``Jochen's quick answer to their two goals was the turning point,'' Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff said. ``It took away momentum from them, and it added momentum for us.''

Islanders coach Steve Stirling was less than pleased with his team's effort in the last 35 minutes.

``They kept skating and it looked like we stopped,'' Stirling said. ``Buffalo is a better team than we are. They're built for the new rules.''

Biron was impressed by his team's play in the final period.

``I think this was the best third period and overtime we've played on the road this season,'' Biron said. ``We really bounced back after we were down 3-1, and we just kept skating and working in that last period and in overtime.''

The Sabres outshot the Islanders 5-0 in overtime.

Notes: Islanders forward Shawn Bates was placed on injured reserve after straining his hamstring during Saturday's win at Florida. Bates had 10 goals and two assists, and led the NHL in shooting percentage (35.7). ... C Jeremy Cotillion made his NHL debut with the Islanders, taking Bates' roster spot. ... The Sabres are 6-1-1 against the Atlantic Division, with three wins coming against the Islanders.

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