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01/15/2012 1:34 AM EST
Nabokov earns 300th win as Isles top Sabres 4-2
NY ISLANDERS 4, BUFFALO 2
UNIONDALE, N.Y. (AP) -- Evgeni Nabokov pondered what Russian
phrase would best describe his night's work, which culminated
with his 300th NHL victory.
He spoke in his native language and then translated it simply as
"awesome!" Such was the way the 36-year-old Nabokov summarized
the milestone victory that made him the 26th NHL goalie to
accomplish the feat.
Michael Grabner scored the go-ahead goal with three minutes
left, and Nabokov and the New York Islanders beat the Buffalo
Sabres 4-2 on Saturday night.
"I want to keep playing because I'm not ready to look back,"
said Nabokov, who made 23 saves against the struggling Sabres
and improved to 7-11 this season. "I am having fun doing my
Grabner put the Islanders ahead and then sealed the win with an
empty-net goal. His 12th goal of the season, scored on a rebound
in front in goalie Jhonas Enroth at 16:57, gave the Islanders
(16-20-6) their fourth win in five home games. New York outshot
Buffalo had a chance to tie it, but Thomas Vanek hit the post on
a penalty shot with 1:24 remaining. The penalty shot was awarded
after officials ruled that Islanders defenseman Mark Streit
intentionally knocked the net off its moorings.
"That could have been our savior, but it wasn't to be," Sabres
coach Lindy Ruff said.
The Sabres (19-20-5) are 9-15-5 in their last 29 games, a
stretch in which they have not won two in a row.
"When you don't execute exits out of your zone, you have a hard
time generating much at the other end," Ruff said. "On the
bright side, I did think Jhonas was terrific."
Nabokov recorded 293 wins during a decade with the San Jose
Sharks before joining the Islanders this season after being
claimed off waivers last January. He spent last season in
"I'm enjoying the guys here and I want to keep working toward
the playoffs," he said. "We still have 40 games left."
Only Martin Brodeur, Nikolai Khabibulin and Roberto Luongo have
more wins among active goalies.
"He's proven to be top goalie for a long time and he's been
great for us this season," Islanders coach Jack Capuano said.
"He made some big saves. Winning 300 games is an honor well
Matt Moulson put New York ahead 1-0 off a rebound at 13:10 of
the first period, sliding his team-leading 21st goal past
Enroth. The Islanders are 13-3-3 when scoring first.
The Sabres tied it at 14:48 of the second on a tip-in by Patrick
Kaleta of Mike Weber's slap shot.
Kyle Okposo knocked in a rebound with 3:44 left in the second to
put the Islanders back on top 2-1 with his 11th of the season.
The Sabres knotted it just 42 seconds later when Derek Roy
finished a broken play started when Nabokov mishandled the puck
behind the net. The puck was intercepted by Nathan Gerbe, who
passed it to Roy for his ninth goal.
The Sabres - beset all season with injuries - have lost a
franchise-worst eight straight road games in regulation. They
lost seven straight on the road twice during the team's
inaugural season in 1970-71. Buffalo's longest road winless
streak was 23 games in 1971-72 when they lost 15 and had eight
"This was another tough night for us," said Ruff, the league's
longest-tenured coach, who has been behind the Buffalo bench
since July 1997.
The loss came in the opener of a seven-game road trip for the
Sabres, whose next home game is Feb. 1.
Buffalo has had 19 players miss at least one game due to injury,
including All-Star goalie Ryan Miller - out nine games with a
concussion and whiplash - and defenseman Tyler Myers, who has
sat out 19 games because of a broken wrist.
Only Enroth, Vanek, Jason Pominville and Luke Adam, have avoided
missing a game because of injury.
New York All-Star John Tavares extended his career-best point
streak to eight games. He has four goals and 10 assists during
NOTES: Nabokov has started 11 straight games. He is the first
Islanders goalie to start more than 10 straight since Joey
MacDonald had a run of 17 in a row during the 2008-09 season.
... The Islanders said oft-injured goalie Rick DiPietro will
have surgery to repair a sports hernia and will be out 10 weeks
because of that and knee swelling. He is 3-2-3 in eight games
this season. ... New York is 9-3-1 in its last 13 games against
Buffalo, including 5-1 at home. ... Ruff has 545 wins with
Buffalo. Only former Islanders coach Al Arbour (740) has more
victories with one NHL team. ... The Sabres have used nine
rookies this season.
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