NEW YORK (AP) Josh Bailey and Hudson Fasching each had a goal and an assist in the third period, and the New York Islanders beat the Buffalo Sabres 3-2 on Tuesday night.
Casey Cizikas also scored for New York and Ilya Sorokin made 22 saves as the Islanders improved to 10-3-3 in their past 16 games. New York is in position for the first wild-card playoff berth in the Eastern Conference.
“I thought tonight wasn’t our best start but it was almost like we flipped a switch in the second half of the game,” New York's Zach Parise said. “We started to pressure them. In the first period, we backed off, we didn’t stay on their defensemen, we didn’t really force them into turning the puck over. The last half of the game, we did. We were a little more aggressive when they had the puck. We made them uncomfortable and turn it over.”
Dylan Cozens and Kyle Okposo scored and Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen finished with 36 saves for the Sabres, who have lost four of five.
Fasching gave the Islanders a 3-2 lead when he directed a fluttering puck over the goal line with his knee at 7:37 of the third. The goal was initially waved off due to a distinct kicking motion, but upon a lengthy review, that call was overturned.
“I was just going to the net,” Fasching said. “I was looking for a rebound then all of a sudden the puck came flying at me. Kind of an instinct reaction.”
The Islanders improved to 27-6-3 this season when they have scored at least three goals, including shootout winners.
Bailey gave the Islanders a 2-1 edge when he put home a rebound at 1:51 of the third. Alexander Romanov’s shot deflected off Cizikas and Bailey was able to backhand the loose puck for his eighth of the season.
“You have to have your best 20 in the third and we have found a way to do that,” Islanders forward Anders Lee said. “It’s part of our style, we start to wear teams down.”
Okposo erased the Islanders' advantage about three minutes later. The Sabres captain fired a well-placed wrist shot from just inside the blue line past the glove of Sorokin.
It was the first time the Islanders allowed a third-period goal in nine games, outscoring opponents 15-1 during that stretch.
Cizikas buried a loose puck from in close to even the game at 1-1 at 12:38 of the second period. Fasching's pass from behind the net deflected off the skate of Sabres defenseman Owen Power right to Cizikas at the top of the crease. Romanov also assisted.
“We knew it was going to be a tough game, second night of a back to back,” Okposo said. “I think fatigue set in a little bit in the second, just kind of mental fatigue. We just started to make some mistakes. ... We had chances to win the game and tie the game back up and just didn’t capitalize.”
Cozens opened the scoring five minutes into the second period with his 25th of the season. The 22-year-old forward, who signed a seven-year, $49.7 million extension in February, entered the offensive zone, split two Islanders players and fired a wrist shot below the blocker of Sorokin. Henrik Jokiharju assisted.
Islanders forward Jean-Gabriel Pageau continued to skate with the team but remains on injured reserve with an upper-body injury that has cost him 10 games. ... Sabres forward Tyson Jost returned to the lineup after missing one game with an undisclosed injury.
Islanders: Visit Pittsburgh on Thursday.
Sabres: Host Dallas on Thursday.
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