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NHL Game Summary - NY Islanders at Buffalo

(Friday, March 30th)

Final Score: Buffalo 6, NY Islanders 4

Buffalo, NY (Sports Network) - Chris Drury scored twice and added an assist as the Buffalo Sabres held off the New York Islanders, 6-4, at HSBC Arena.

Thomas Vanek, Drew Stafford and Derek Roy each had a goal and a helper, while Dainius Zubrus also tallied for Buffalo. Jason Pominville had a career- high three assists, and Ryan Miller finished with 25 saves for the Eastern Conference-leading Sabres, who have won four of their last five games.

Buffalo has already clinched a playoff spot, but coupled with an Ottawa win Friday night, could not clinch the division. The Sabres will get that opportunity on Saturday when they battle Montreal, with a chance to take the division and the Eastern Conference with a win (needing 109 points).

"There's always milestones every year, and that would be an exciting one to get, especially with a week left to go," said Drury, of possibly winning the division. "I'm sure it's something we'll be talking about tomorrow."

Viktor Kozlov scored twice, Tom Poti had a goal and one assist, and Jason Blake also tallied for the Islanders, who have lost three straight and seven of their last nine games. The team is one of a handful still battling for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. With 84 points, the Islanders sit two points behind Montreal for the eighth and final spot. The Carolina Hurricanes also have 84 points, while the Toronto Maple Leafs remain on the outside looking in with 85.

Mike Dunham was pulled after allowing five goals on just 12 shots for the Islanders. Wade Dubielewicz allowed just one goal on 18 chances the rest of the way.

Roy ignited a six-goal first period when he lit the lamp just 2:14 into the contest to give Buffalo a 1-0 edge.

New York quickly tied the game at 1-1, however, when Blake cruised in front of the net and wristed a shot high over the glove of Miller at 4:28, but Buffalo responded with four unanswered goals.

Vanek put the Sabres back in front when he stuffed the puck between the near post and right skate of Dunham at 7:55.

A 5-on-3 power-play tally by Drury made it 3-1, as he ripped a slapshot from the top of the left circle that found the back of the net at 10:03. Stafford then made it 4-1 when he tucked the puck under a diving Dunham just 53 seconds later.

Drury scored with a backhand shot on a breakaway to make it 5-1 at 14:57 and cap the rally.

"That's definitely how we wanted to start," said Stafford, of the outburst. "I think that's what we?re going to try and work on, making sure we're prepared. The next step is making sure we play a full 60 (minutes)."

Neither side lit the lamp in the middle stanza, but the Islanders battled back with a pair of power-play tallies in the third period to cut their deficit to 5-3.

Kozlov got things started when he took a feed from Sean Hill and wristed a shot past Miller at 2:38. Poti followed up less than 2 1/2 minutes later, as he rifled the disc into the back of the net to make it 5-3 with plenty of time remaining.

The Islanders kept battling, but Zubrus added an insurance goal for Buffalo. Drury tried a wraparound attempt before Zubrus poked home the loose puck to make it 6-3 with 7:29 remaining.

Kozlov tucked a shot past Miller on the short side with just 40 seconds to play to account for the final margin.

"We didn't play smart, we didn't play with any patience, we played soft," said Islanders head coach Ted Nolan. "They (the Sabres) are a quick team, we knew that going in. When you have brain cramps...when you don't move the puck when they're on top of you, they're going to take advantage because they're a good team. We didn't do what we wanted to do before the game started."

Game Notes

Islanders netminder Rick DiPietro did not accompany the team to Buffalo and is not expected to play Saturday at home against Ottawa. DiPietro has been experiencing headaches since the Islanders' overtime loss to the New York Rangers on Sunday...Buffalo hasn't finished at the top of its division since the 1996-97 season and hasn't been a No. 1 seed in the playoffs since 1979-80...Buffalo's Toni Lydman returned after missing six games with an upper body injury...Drury has two goals and four assists in his last five games...Blake has four goals in his last five games for New York.

03/31 00:59:39 ET

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