NEW YORK (AP) Casey Cizikas scored the tiebreaking goal in the third period, and the New York Islanders opened their season with a 3-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday night.

Brock Nelson had a goal and an assist, Kyle Palmieri also scored and Ilya Sorokin stopped 27 shots as the Islanders won their season opener at home for the first time since 1995.

“When we gave up that second goal, we didn’t shrink, we rose to the occasion,” Cizikas said. “We kept pushing forward, we didn’t sit back and we took it to them. We ended up getting rewarded for it.”

Jordan Greenway and Casey Mittelstadt scored for the Sabres, who were coming off a 5-1 loss at home to the New York Rangers in their season opener on Thursday night. Devon Levi finished with 23 saves.

Cizikas broke a 2-2 tie with a nifty redirection off Adam Pelech’s shot from the point with 6:20 left. The Sabres challenged the play believing Islanders defenseman Noah Dobson entered the zone offside prior to the goal, but the score stood.

“It takes one line to turn the momentum,” Islanders forward Matt Martin said. “Then every line that follows carries through with it. We believe we are a four-line team and in order to be successful you have to get contributions that way.”

Mittelstadt had tied the score at 2:34 of the third with his first goal of the season. The 24-year-old center got a loose puck in front of Sorokin and roofed a backhand.

“We looked a lot more like ourselves, more instances of speed and attack," Sabres coach Don Granato said. "Just before they scored that winning goal we hit two goal posts so the game could have gone the other way. We all have our own opinions on the final goal."

Nelson opened the scoring 5:57 into the game when his wrist shot sailed past Levi's glove. Pierre Engvall, who signed a seven-year extension with New York in the offseason, won a puck battle along the boards to set up the play.

Palmieri increased the Islanders' lead to 2-0 when Nelson’s shot deflected off his leg and a Sabres defender with 1:42 left in the first.

Buffalo got on the scoreboard as Greenway slid a backhanded shot into the net at 4:15 of the second. Zach Benson, an 18-year-old rookie, recorded his first career assist on the play in his second NHL game.

“He obviously had an awesome camp, just the way he see's the ice is pretty incredible for such a young player in the NHL,” Sabres defenseman Connor Clifton said of Benson. “He's been great, he's earned his spot and he played great tonight. That line was by far our best.”


The Islanders held a period of silent contemplation prior to puck drop for the victims killed when Hamas militants attacked Israel last week, and all the civilians currently in danger. In addition, the jumbotron displayed the blue and white Israeli flag during the time of reflection.


Sabres: Host Tampa Bay on Tuesday night.

Islanders: Host Arizona on Tuesday night.



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