NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Saturday, February 23rd (All times Eastern)
New York Islanders (7-9-1) at Buffalo Sabres (6-11-1), 7 p.m.
(Sports Network) - Ron Rolston will make his home debut as interim head coach of the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday night, when his club plays host to the New York Islanders.
On Wednesday, Rolston replaced the fired Lindy Ruff, who had been the coach of the Sabres since July 21, 1997 and was the league's longest tenured head coach. However, he was dismissed following a 6-10-1 start, with Rolston taking over after serving as the bench boss of the Rochester Americans of the AHL.
Buffalo began the post-Ruff era the way it ended it, suffering a third straight setback with a 3-1 decision at Toronto.
Tyler Ennis registered a first-period goal for the Sabres, but the Maple Leafs scored twice in the middle frame and capped the scoring with a third-period tally.
"I thought we played well in parts of the game," Rolston said. "I didn't like our second period. Obviously it was the turning point."
Ryan Miller gave up three goals on 35 shots in the loss, Buffalo's fifth in six games.
The Sabres were without two of their defenseman on Thursday, with Andrej Sekera sitting out his third straight game due to a charley horse and Jordan Leopold missing the contest due to an upper body injury.
The Islanders will try to avoid giving Rolston his first win after they snapped a two-game slide with Thursday's 4-3 overtime victory at the Montreal Canadiens. It was just New York's third victory in its last 10 games.
Defenseman Thomas Hickey put home the game-winner with 1:48 on the clock, the first goal of his career.
"This is a special place and to score in overtime and get the win, I couldn't be happier," said the Calgary-born Hickey, the fourth overall pick of the 2007 draft by Los Angeles who was claimed off waivers from the Kings on Jan. 15.
Matt Moulson potted a pair of power-play goals, while Frans Nielsen scored the game-tying tally midway through the third period. John Tavares had two assists and Evgeni Nabokov made 30 saves.
Nabokov should continue to see the bulk of the work for the rest of the season after the Islanders placed Rick DiPietro on waivers Friday. Due to DiPietro's lack of consistent health over the years, no other team is expected to put in a claim. New York is then expected to send DiPietro to the minors.
The Isles have lost three straight to the Sabres, including a 3-2 home loss on Feb. 9. Miller made 41 saves for Buffalo, including a game-saving stop on Tavares on a penalty shot with 3:53 left to play.
New York has won three of its last four in Buffalo.
02/23 10:42:26 ET