Skip to Main Content
The Official Site of the Buffalo Sabres

At The Final Horn: Islanders 2 - Sabres 4

Houser makes 34 saves to earn victory in NHL debut

by Chris Ryndak @ChrisRyndak /

Michael Houser made 34 saves to earn a victory in his NHL debut.

Behind Houser's stellar performance, the Buffalo Sabres defeated the New York Islanders 4-2 on Monday at KeyBank Center. 

With every other goaltender under contract unavailable, Houser, 28, appeared in his first professional game since March 7, 2020 - a 24-save shutout for Cincinnati of the ECHL. Houser last played in the AHL during the 2017-18 season and had never stepped onto the ice for an NHL game until Monday night.

Sam Reinhart had a three-point night against the Islanders with two goals and an assist. Tage Thompson recorded a goal and an assist, and Rasmus Asplund also scored for Buffalo. 

Adam Pelech and Oliver Wahlstrom were New York's goal scorers. Semyon Varlamov made 36 saves. 

Buffalo's power play went 1-for-3 and the Sabres' penalty kill finished 1-for-1.


What happened

The Islanders scored the game's first goal at the 9:15 mark of the opening period when Pelech's shot deflected off the stick of Henri Jokiharju and in past Houser. 

Houser stopped 10 of 11 shots in the first period, but allowed the first shot against in the second period. With Casey Cizikas setting up a screen at the top of the crease, Roman Pulock's shot was deflected by Matt Martin and found its way in.

Buffalo challenged the call on the ice and upon further review, the officials determined that Cizikas interfered with Houser, negating the goal. The score remained 1-0.

The Islanders eventually scored again when a shot by Pelech was deflected in front by Wahlstrom with 9:18 left in the second.  

Thompson rifled a shot from just above the right faceoff dot on the power play with 5:56 remaining in the middle frame to make it 2-1. 

With 8:35 left in the third period, the Sabres tied things up. Reinhart worked around the defense and one-handed a pass to the front of the net. The puck made its way to Asplund, who buried it for his seventh goal of the year. 

Reinhart tipped in a shot by Rasmus Ristolainen with 4:04 left in regulation to put Buffalo ahead for the first time all game. 

Reinhart buried an empty netter with 51.2 seconds left to seal the victory. 

Roll the highlight film

Here's Reinhart's go-ahead goal:

Video: NYI@BUF: Reinhart redirects go-ahead goal home late

Worth mentioning

-Houser signed a one-year contract with the Sabres on March 19. He had previously been on an AHL deal with the Rochester Americans.

Since signing an entry-level contract with the Florida Panthers on July 9, 2012 as an undrafted free agent, Houser played eight seasons in the ECHL and AHL.

Following the 2018-19 season with the Cincinnati Cyclones, he was named the 2018-19 ECHL Goaltender of the Year and an All-ECHL First Team selection after leading all netminders with a record of 29-7-4-1.

-Stefanos Lekkas signed a professional tryout contract with the Sabres before the game and served as Houser's backup. He's 1-5-1 with the Amerks this season.  

He began the 2020-21 season with the Fort Wayne Komets (ECHL), posting a 7-2-2 record with a 2.15 goals-against average and a .914 save percentage in 11 games. He led all ECHL rookie goaltenders in goals-against average while ranking third in wins and fourth in save percentage when he signed a PTO with Rochester on April 13.

-The Sabres are dealing with injuries to Linus Ullmark (who took the ice with the team during the morning skate since sustaining a lower-body injury on April 13), Carter Hutton and Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen. Dustin Tokarski was unavailable to play or back up. 

-The Sabres have used six goaltenders in a season only twice before.

In 1988-89, Tom Barrasso, Jacques Cloutier, Darren Eliot, Clint Malarchuk, Daren Puppa and Darcy Wakaluk all played. 

And in 2013-14, Ryan Miller, Jhonas Enroth, Michael Neuvirth, Nathan Lieuwen, Matt Hackett and Connor Knapp saw game action.

This season, Houser, Hutton, Ullmark, Tokarski, Luukkonen and Jonas Johansson (who was traded to Colorado on March 21) have started games for Buffalo. 

-Sabres goaltending development coach Seamus Kotyk joined Brian Duff and Martin Biron on the pregame show to talk about the organization's netminders:

Video: Sabres goaltending development coach on pregame show

Coming up

The Sabres and Islanders will go head-to-head for the final time tomorrow night. Faceoff from KeyBank Center is set for 7 p.m. on MSG and WGR 550 with pregame coverage on MSG starting at 6:30. 

View More