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Casey Cizikas scores winner as Islanders defeat Sabres

Casey Cizikas scored the tiebreaking goal late in the third period Saturday night for the host New York Islanders, who edged the Buffalo Sabres 3-2 in Elmont, N.Y.

Both teams traded near-misses for several minutes before Cizikas redirected Adam Pelech’s shot from the blue line with 6:20 left.

Brock Nelson and Kyle Palmieri scored in the first period for the Islanders, who won their season opener for the first time since 2021. Goalie Ilya Sorokin made 27 saves.

Jordan Greenway scored in the second and Casey Mittlestadt tied the game in the third for the Sabres, who are 0-2-0 for the first time since 2021. Goalie Devon Levi recorded 26 saves.

The teams each had seven shots in the first period, when the Islanders scored twice off Sabres turnovers.

Sabres center Dylan Cozens fired wide of Sorokin and the puck bounced off the boards and skipped past Connor Clifton and into the Islanders’ zone. Pierre Engvall outdueled Clifton for the puck and passed to Nelson, who sent a shot under Levi’s glove at the 5:57 mark.

Engvall also helped create the Islanders’ second goal. The Islanders left winger pounced on a loose puck in the Sabres’ zone and fired a shot off the boards that caromed to Ryan Pulock, whose shot from the right faceoff circle glanced off Levi’s pads. Nelson grabbed the rebound and his pass into the crease clipped off Palmieri before hitting Clifton’s skate and trickling into the net with 1:42 remaining.

Engvall nearly created another turnover moments before the Sabres’ first goal early in the second. Sabres left winger Zach Benson was converged upon by Engvall and Adam Pelech but managed to get the puck to Mittelstadt, who fed Greenway. The left winger then weaved into the crease and backhanded a shot in the split second he had in between a falling Pelech and another defenseman, Noah Dobson, and past Sorokin at the 4:15 mark.

The Sabres took advantage of a bouncing puck to tie the score 2:34 into the third. Rasmus Dahlin, stationed just in front of the blue line, fired a puck off the boards and it glanced off Benson, who was surrounded by Dobson and Matt Martin. But neither Islanders player could gain possession and Mittelstadt picked up the puck, shuffled a couple beats and then fired a no-look backhander beyond Sorokin’s glove.

–Field Level Media

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