NEW YORK (AP) — Kyle Okposo scored with 6 1/2 minutes remaining, Eric Comrie stopped 27 shots for his second career shutout, and the Buffalo Sabres beat the New York Islanders 2-0 on Saturday.
Jeff Skinner added an empty-net goal to help Buffalo win its second straight after losing the previous four. The Sabres are four points behind Pittsburgh for the final wild card in the tightly-contested Eastern Conference playoff race with the Penguins hosting Washington on Saturday night.
“It was a very mature game, I thought from us,” Okposo said. “We played the game that needed to be played today and we didn’t get frustrated. We just continued to play our game. We didn’t get sucked into trying to make too many plays or taking things that weren’t there. That’s obviously a very frustrating team to play against, they know how to win, they know how to lock it down. We just did a great job staying patient.”
Semyon Varlamov finished with 33 saves for New York, which lost its second straight. The Islanders had won 11 straight at home against the Sabres.
Comrie made a key third-period save with a stellar right-pad stop on Pierre Engvall from in close to keep the game scoreless midway through the final period.
“I found his stick blade early and saw that he is on his backhand,” Comrie said. “He’s either going to try and chip it really fast or pull it. I saw his left shoulder dip and knew he was going to pull it (to his forehand).”
Okposo opened the scoring with 6:29 left as he notched his 10th of the season. Islanders defenseman Scott Mayfield failed to clear the puck and Buffalo capitalized. Sabres defenseman Ilya Lyubushkin sent a fluttering puck across the slot and Okposo controlled the pass and fired a wrist shot past Varlamov’s right pad, off the post and in.
Okposo spent the first nine years of his NHL career with the Islanders before signing a seven-year $42 million contract with the Sabres in the summer of 2016. He was named captain of Buffalo ahead of this season.
Skinner tallied an empty-net goal off an assist from Dylan Cozens in the final minute to seal the victory for Buffalo.
“You had to be very patient,” Sabres coach Don Granato said. “That’s something that hasn’t been in our game a lot this season. We stayed on it, stayed on it and very, very good job and had to be good defensively tonight.”
Sabres host Montreal on Monday night.