Tue, 11 May 2021

Sabres, Michael Houser seek encore vs. Isles

Field Level Media
04 May 2021, 20:19 GMT+10

Michael Houser, making his NHL debut on Monday, was a big reason the Buffalo Sabres ended their lengthy losing streak to the New York Islanders.

It appears the 28-year-old goalie will get the chance, on a quick turnaround, to help the Sabres post back-to-back wins in the same season over the visiting playoff-bound Islanders for the first time in nearly a decade on Tuesday night.

With Buffalo (14-32-7, 35 points) light on goaltending options due to a recent injury to promising rookie Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen and with Dustin Tokarski reportedly tending to a family matter, Houser was pressed into duty Monday against the Islanders.

In what might end up being the biggest highlight on a dismal 2020-21 season for Buffalo, Houser made 34 saves in his first action since March 2020, while playing for the ECHL's Cincinnati Cyclones, as the Sabres rallied from a two-goal deficit to win 4-2.

"It's so exciting," Houser said, per The Athletic. "I've worked my whole life for this to happen. Just to play a game is really special, but to win, winning's always the goal."

Houser became the sixth netminder to start for Buffalo this season.

The victory snapped Buffalo's four-game losing streak overall and an 0-8-1 slide against New York. It was also the Sabres' first victory in seven tries this season against the Islanders. The last time the Sabres beat New York in consecutive games during the same season was in February 2012.

According to interim Sabres coach Don Granato, the plan is to start Houser again Tuesday.

Buffalo scored three unanswered goals in the third period, two from Sam Reinhart, who has matched his career high with 25 goals set during the 2017-18 campaign.

Reinhart has scored eight times in the past six games, and he has four goals and three assists in seven games against New York this season.

Teammate Tage Thompson also equaled his career best of seven goals when he ended Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov's franchise-record shutout streak at 248 minutes -- the 12th-longest run in league history -- at the 14:04 mark of the second period.

Varlamov, who stopped 36 shots, is 3-1-0 with a 2.02 goals-against average versus Buffalo this season. However, backup Ilya Sorokin could get the start to conclude the back-to-back set. Sorokin has posted a 1.33 GAA while winning all three of his starts against the Sabres in the 2020-21 campaign.

Regardless who will be in net, the Islanders (31-16-5, 67 points) must find a way to bounce back after losing a game they largely controlled for two periods.

"Give (the Sabres) credit, they played a real solid game," said New York coach Barry Trotz, whose club is fourth in the East Division, one point behind the third-place Boston Bruins.

"You're not going to have success playing the way you did (Monday night). No way, not our team. ... You have to be emotionally more invested than we were (Monday)."

With an assist, New York's Anthony Beauvillier has nine points in his past seven games. Teammate Josh Bailey has five assists in the past three games, and six assists against the Sabres this season.

--Field Level Media

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