OSHAWA, Ont. — Jeff Skinner scored two of Buffalo's four second-period goals in a 90-second span Friday night as the Sabres outlasted the New York Islanders, 5-4, in their preseason finale at Tribute Communities Centre.
Rasmus Dahlin also tallied in the middle frame, connecting for his first goal of the preseason as the Sabres snapped a four-game losing streak to finish the exhibition schedule with a 3-4 record. The Islanders had a four-game winning streak snapped and finished 5-3.
Skinner scored at 11:34, capping a 2-on-1 off a neat feed from Sam Reinhart. He then added an acrobatic goal at 13:04, tallying from behind the goal line by banking the puck off the back of Islanders goalie Thomas Greiss to put Buffalo up, 5-2.
"When I took a peek there, I felt like he was still down and I had a little bit of an area," Skinner said. "Even if it doesn't go in, I can create some chaos in front and maybe someone else can get a rebound. Fortunately for me, it sort of banked off him and went in."
"As advertised, he can score goals in tight areas," said coach Phil Housley. "That second one ... was a heck of a goal. It's good for him to find the twine."
Dahlin assisted on that goal, and his goal at 3:42 of the period came on a wrist shot from the right point that cleanly beat Islanders goalie Robin Lehner, the former Sabre.
Skinner finished as the only Sabres forward to score three goals in the preseason. Andrew Oglevie (2) was the only other player with more than one.
Anders Lee had two goals for the Islanders. His laser off the post with 4:41 left got New York within a goal but it could not get the equalizer.
Skinner's 2nd goal 👀 pic.twitter.com/AQjxTZbkNW
— Buffalo Sabres (@BuffaloSabres) September 29, 2018
Dahlin on the preseason: "I've learned so many things about the systems and how the other teams are playing. I've learned a lot. It's been a great preseason."
The lineups: The Sabres scratched defenseman Lawrence Pilut as well as forwards Justin Bailey and Nicholas Baptiste. That could portend bad news for Bailey and Baptiste, who would need to clear waivers to get back to Rochester.
Jack Eichel, Rasmus Ristolainen and Marco Scandella all sat this one out with minor injuries. Johan Larsson and Zach Bogosian, both injured in games earlier this week, also sat out. Their status is much less certain.
The top line had Vladimir Sobotka centering Skinner and Reinhart. Patrik Berglund was between Alexander Nylander and Tage Thompson, Casey Mittelstadt centered Scott Wilson and Kyle Okposo while Evan Rodrigues was between Zemgus Girgensons and Jason Pominville
On defense, Dahlin played predominantly the right side with Jake McCabe for the first time in the preseason after spending his previous three games on the left side. Nathan Beaulieu-Casey Nelson and Brendan Guhle-Matt Tennyson.
"It worked out. It was fun, real good," Dahlin said of returning to his natural side. "I can't say it was a big difference. Same kind of style."
In the nets: Carter Hutton went the route for the Sabres and made 27 saves. Lehner got the start for the Islanders and stopped 11 of 14 shots in 29 minutes.
Defense doesn't rest: Nelson gave Buffalo the lead for keeps with a goal at 2:16 of the second period that snapped a 1-1 tie. It was his second of the preseason and second in two games. The Dahlin goal became the fifth by a Sabres defenseman during the preseason.
Latvian locomotive: Girgensons got the Sabres even at 1-1 at 8:20 of the first period, tipping home a Guhle wrist shot. Girgensons, who did not have a point in his first three games, assisted on the Nelson goal.
Why were we here?: The game was played in the home of the Ontario Hockey League's Oshawa Generals, who previously retired the number 91 of long-time Islanders star John Tavares. The game was contracted in December, when Tavares was still on the team and months away from signing with Toronto. The absence of Tavares — and ticket prices that ranged from $71-$117 Canadian — kept the crowd down to about 3,000 in the 5,500-seat facility.
What's next: The Sabres are off Saturday and return to practice Sunday morning at 11 in HarborCenter. The roster is currently at 32 players and needs to get cut down to 23 by 5 p.m. on Tuesday. The regular season opens Thursday against Boston in KeyBank Center.