Sabres 4, Islanders 2
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) _ Doug Gilmour had two assists and was a constant offensive threat in his Buffalo debut Sunday, sparking the Sabres to a 4-2 win over the New York Islanders.
Chris Gratton, another Sabres newcomer, scored an empty-net goal and set up Jason Woolley’s go-ahead score as Buffalo crept back into playoff contention.
The Sabres, in 11th place in the Eastern Conference, are within two points of Pittsburgh and Montreal, which hold the final two playoff positions.
Jay McKee and Craig Patrick also scored for the Sabres, who revamped their lineup on Friday. Buffalo acquired Gilmour from Chicago and Gratton from Tampa Bay in separate deals.
Dmitri Nabakov and Tim Connolly scored for the Islanders, who defeated Buffalo 4-2 eight days earlier at home.
Gilmour played for the first time after missing five games _ including his last four with Chicago _ with bruised ribs. His Buffalo debut was nearly spoiled by Kevin Weekes.
The Islanders goalie prevented a blowout in a game New York was outshot 33-16, including 25-8 through the first two periods.
Woolley, who has scored in three straight games, broke a 1-1 tie with 1:40 left in the second.
Vladimir Tsyplakov set the goal up by checking Islanders defenseman Aris Brimanis off the puck behind the New York net. Gratton, beating New York’s Mariusz Czerkawski to the puck, made a blind-centering pass to Woolley who scored into the open side.
Patrick, converting Curtis Brown’s rebound, gave the Sabres a 3-1 lead 1:46 into the third.
Connolly answered less than four minutes later, by deflecting in Jamie Rivers’ shot, to cut the deficit to one goal.
Gratton scoring into an empty net with 15.1 seconds remaining.
Gilmour’s presence sparked the Sabres to one of their most dominating first periods of the season, in which Buffalo outshot the Islanders 16-4. Because of Weekes’ stellar play the game was tied at 1.
Gilmour, playing alongside Brown and Miroslav Satan, had a couple of scoring chances and worked hard in the corners to set up other opportunities.
The Sabres also banged a couple of pucks off the goal post.
Gilmour had a hand on McKee’s game-opening goal at 4:38 of the first. Carrying the puck into the Islanders zone, Gilmour spun around at the side boards and hit Brown with a pass. Brown then centered to McKee who redirected the puck in.