Buffalo Sabres defenceman Craig Rivet, right, congratulates Sabres center Derek Roy after his goal during the first period of the NHL hockey game against the New York Islanders in Buffalo, N.Y., Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2009. (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS/Don Heupel)
After being shut out by the New York Islanders four days ago, Ryan Miller and the Buffalo Sabres returned the favour.
Miller made 24 saves for his second shutout of the season and 14th overall, and Thomas Vanek had a goal and assist in Buffalo's 3-0 victory Wednesday night. Derek Roy and Paul Gaustad also scored to help the Sabres (9-2-1) rebound from a 5-0 loss to the Islanders on Saturday on Long Island.
"We played a real sound game coming off that loss," Miler said. "We did a very sound job pushing the puck up the ice, and we didn't give up anything that was too dangerous. We want to be a team that's in control."
They were certainly that against an Islanders team had won four straight by a combined score of 15-5. But New York was unable to generate much offence against the NHL's stingiest defence and its shut-down goalie.
Buffalo has allowed just 24 goals in 12 games this season, and played perhaps one of its best overall games against the Islanders. The Sabres took 39 shots, scored twice on the power play, and killed off three Islanders man-advantage opportunities.
"It was a real great effort," said Vanek, who scored for the first time in five games. "We adjusted good from the other night, and overall played well and deserved to win."
Former Sabres goalie Martin Biron made 36 saves for the Islanders (5-5-5), who were attempting to win five straight for the first time since a six-game run in February 2008.
Biron earned the shutout against his former teammates four days ago.
"I don't think it was anything they did, I think we beat ourselves tonight," Islanders forward Kyle Okposo said. "We didn't create a whole lot of opportunities. When we had some, we shot ourselves in the foot."
Miller helped pull that trigger by repeatedly clearing pucks to the side or covering them up.
"I think they had to find their moments," Miller said. "They couldn't get a consistent attack going, which I think is why we ended up winning that game."
Roy opened the scoring with his first of the season at 8:27 of the first period on the power play, wristing a shot from the top of the left circle that beat Biron on the stick side. Buffalo cashed in again on the power play with 2:47 left in the second period when Vanek deposited the puck past Biron on his own rebound from in tight.
Gaustad capped the scoring with 3:41 left when he jammed the puck in. The play was upheld after a video review showed the puck crossed the goal line before Biron was able to freeze it.
"They did a lot of things right, but you combine that with our lack of efficiency in the face-off dot, our lack of urgency at times, poor decisions, and not skating when we had the opportunity, it was a bad combination," Islanders coach Scott Gordon said. "They are one of the better teams in the league, and they have the ability to do what they did."
NOTES: Buffalo recalled G Jhonas Enroth to replace injured backup Patrick Lalime, who hurt his groin in practice earlier in the week. D Toni Lydman was placed on IR because of a groin injury. ... This was the third meeting between the two teams already this season. ... New York rookie John Tavares has a four-game points streak snapped. ... The Islanders will play eight of their next nine on the road, where they have a 1-3-3 record. ... The Sabres have beaten the Islanders eight times in the last 10 meetings in Buffalo. ... The Sabres were successful on 39 of 47 faceoffs.