|Evgeni Nabokov makes a save on Calgary Flames' Jarome Iginla in this file photo. (DARREN MAKOWICHUK/QMI Agency)
The New York Islanders aim for their third victory over the Buffalo Sabres in nine days this afternoon when the two teams conclude a home- and-home series on Long Island at Nassau Coliseum.
The Islanders posted a 5-3 home victory over the Sabres on Jan. 15, then opened this two-game set with Friday's 5-2 victory in Buffalo. Michael Grabner scored twice to give him five goals in his last four games, while P.A. Parenteau scored what was the game-winner in the second period.
Parenteau's tally took on added importance when Buffalo's Nathan Gerbe scored a pair of goals within five seconds late in the third period to set a franchise record. The five-second burst was also one tick shy of the NHL record, shared by Montreal Maroons' Nels Stewart (1931) and Winnipeg's Deron Quint (1995).
New York also got goals from Matt Moulson and Jack Hillen in winning for just the second time in seven games.
"We still have things to work on here," said Moulson. "But we know if we stick to our game plan and what the coaches set forth for us, we're gonna come away with wins. We just need to get on a roll and get some confidence."
New York is 14th out of 15 teams in the Eastern Conference with 37 points, 18 back of a playoff spot. The club played in Buffalo on Friday off a 1-3-1 homestand and is 8-10-4 as the host this season.
As the Islanders go for their fourth straight victory over the Sabres, and fifth in a row as the host in this series, the question is who will be in net. With Rick DiPietro back in New York due to the flu, Nathan Lawson got the start versus the Sabres, but left after the first period due to a left knee injury. Kevin Poulin made 26 saves in relief.
With DiPietro and Lawson questionable, the Isles claimed Evgeni Nabokov off waivers on Saturday. Nabokov had signed a one-year contract with Detroit on Friday, but had to clear waivers because he had played in the Kontinental Hockey League this season.
However, reports surfaced on Saturday that Nabokov will not report to the Islanders.
Nabokov was released from a reported four-year, $24 million deal in Russia last month after going 44-16-10 with a 2.43 goals-against average and three shutouts with San Jose last season. He failed to land an NHL deal this past offseason as a free agent after spending all 10 seasons of his career with the Sharks, going 293-178-37 with 29 ties, a 2.39 GAA and 50 shutouts in 563 games.
The Sabres will likely go back to Ryan Miller after he was pulled halfway through the first period on Friday. Miller gave up two goals on 10 shots, with Patrick Lalime making 16 saves in relief.
"We had some good effort in parts of the game, but there was no finishing," said Buffalo head coach Lindy Ruff, whose club fell to 7-3-1 in its last 11 games. "You can win all the battles, but if you don't finish plays, you don't win."
Miller is 10-8-1 with a 3.04 GAA in his career versus the Islanders.
Patrick Kaleta aggravated a hand injury in the first period on Friday. He was playing in his third game since missing seven in a row with a broken left hand and joins Drew Stafford (groin) and Cody McCormick (flu-like symptoms) as questionable for tonight.
Buffalo is eight points out of a playoff spot in the East and begins a three- game road trip tonight. The Sabres have won three of their last four as the guest.