The slide deepens and so do the Buffalo Sabres' offensive struggles.
Derick Brassard's fluke goal at 5:19 of the first period gave the New York Islanders the lead and they made it stand up to blank the Sabres, 1-0, Saturday night in KeyBank Center.
The Sabres fell to 9-4-2 and are 1-3-1 in their last five games. It's the first time this season they have dropped two straight games in regulation. Buffalo has been outscored, 16-7, over the last five games.
Meanwhile, the Islanders (10-3) won their ninth straight game for the first time since 1990 and have allowed just 16 goals in that stretch.
The goal: Brassard scored his fifth goal of the season, and scored for the fifth straight game, as he tried to pass the puck to the front of the net from the back boards and snuck it past Carter Hutton after it deflected off the stick of Sabres defenseman Colin Miller. Hutton lost his post expecting the pass to the front and the puck snuck in behind him.
In the other net: Semyon Varlamov made 25 saves to earn his first shutout with the Islanders. Varlamov signed a four-year, $20-million contract over the summer and replaced former Sabre Robin Lehner as the Islanders' No. 1 netminder.
A different look: Brandon Montour made his season debut in the Buffalo lineup on defense after missing the first 14 games due to a hand injury suffered early in preseason. He was partnered with Rasmus Dahlin. Forward Jimmy Vesey returned to the lineup after missing three games with an upper-body injury that occurred in last week's loss to the New York Rangers. John Gilmour and Evan Rodrigues were the healthy scratches.
Coach Ralph Krueger juggled his lines for the first time this season as Vesey was moved to left wing with Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart. Victor Olofsson was flipped from the left side to right wing with Marcus Johansson and Jeff Skinner. Vladimir Sobotka left that line and joined Conor Sheary and Casey Mittelstadt.
Power play report: The Sabres entered the game leading the NHL in home percentage at 38.1 but went 0 for 3 in the game. They had three shots on goal and several good chances that missed. On the best opportunity early in the third after a too many men on the ice call, Miller rifled a one-timer off the goal post.
'70s Night: The Sabres introduced 20 alumni in an on-ice ceremony prior to the game, including team Hall of Famers Jim Lorentz, Rene Robert, Don Luce, Jim Schoenfeld, Jerry Korab, Bill Hajt, Danny Gare and Don Edwards. Music from the era was played during the game and the starting lineup graphics were in the form of early '70s Topps hockey cards.
— Mike Harrington (@ByMHarrington) November 2, 2019
Also in the stands: A big "Bruuuuuuce" chant went up for Bruce Smith when the Pro Football Hall of Famer was shown in a suite with former Bills lineman and current radio analyst Eric Wood. Smith was wearing a Sabres 50th anniversary jersey with his trademark No. 78.
Filling the house: The Sabres announced their second sellout of the season of 19,070, and the first since their home-opening win over New Jersey on Oct. 5.
Next: It's time for the big trip. The Sabres hit the skies Sunday night for the long flight to Sweden and will spend the week in Stockholm. They'll meet the Tampa Bay Lightning there Friday and Saturday, with games starting at 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. Buffalo time, respectively. Those are Buffalo's first games on foreign soil since opening the 2011-12 season with a win over Anaheim in Helsinki, Finland, and another over Los Angeles in Berlin, Germany.