Comrie Comes Up Big Again in 3-2 Win
by: Patrick Hickey, Jr. | Senior Writer - NY Sports Day | Sunday, October 7, 2007

Anyone who wasn’t a fan of the Mike Comrie signing this summer has obviously been busy the past two nights -- eating their words.

Scoring two goals for the second consecutive night, Comrie led the surprisingly solid Islanders to a 3-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres.

“We wanted to come into this season and establish our work ethic and we did that,” said Comrie, who has four goals and six points in his first two games as an Islander. “We still have 80 games to go though, but it’s a lot more fun when you win.”

Just like last night, the Islanders took their time getting started, committing a handful of penalties and failed to put together any sustained offensive attack. Committing four penalties in the first period, the Islanders luck ran out after three successful kills, as Jaroslav Spacek scored a powerplay goal from the point after Rick DiPietro was screened by big Andy Sutton.

Getting three chances of their own with the man advantage in the period, Ryan Miller only faced nine shots, as Buffalo’s offense maintained a solid forecheck, despite only seven shots on goal of their own. Looking nothing like the high-scoring bonanza that last night’s game was, the Islanders and Buffalo both looked like they were scared to make mistakes in their own end.

The Islanders took the initiative in the second though, as Chris Campoli joined the play and fired home a slap shot after receiving a cross-ice pass from Trent Hunter, tying the score at 1-1. His second goal in as many games, Campoli’s play so far this season may force the Islanders to make a tough decision when Bryan Berard finally signs with the team.

“I can only control what I can,” said Campoli. “So far, things are going well for me.”

Starting to take the body, while getting shots on Miller, the Islanders kept the pressure on Buffalo on both sides of the ice throughout the second. Limiting Buffalo to only 15 shots through the first two periods, the Islanders forwards and defensemen alike were getting under the skin of the Sabres, as both Jon Sim and Sutton were victims of some post-whistle roughhousing during the second.

However, despite their noticeable grit and tenacity, the Isles couldn’t muster another goal off Miller in the second, taking a 1-1 tie into the third period.

Continuing to press Buffalo in the third, the Islanders needed only two minutes to get their first lead of the night. Firing home a gorgeous backhand through the legs of Miller, Comrie scored his third goal of the season, giving the Isles a 2-1 lead.

The Islanders new first line center wasn’t finished yet however, taking an amazing behind the net pass from Ruslan Fedotenko and depositing it over the glove of Miller. Putting his team up by two goals, Comrie, who has six points in his first two games as an Islander, wore a smile on the bench the rest of the game.

“Tank made a great pass in between two guys,” said Comrie. “He put it right on my tape.”

The Islanders defense then took center stage and clamped down on the dynamic and aggressive Sabres offense. Forcing the Buffalo defensemen to join the rush to contribute offensively, the Isles defense successfully rebounded from a mediocre showing last night.

A broken play resulted in a Jochen Hecht goal that got the Sabres within one goal with just over six minutes left to play. Avoiding a DiPietro poke check, Hecht slapped the puck off Isles defenseman Brendan Witt, which then ended up finding its way into the net.

That was all the offense the Sabres could put together.

Not even pulling their goalie for the last 1:35 of the third period seemed to help Buffalo, as the Islanders defense maintained consistent pressure and suffocated any attempt the Sabres made at establishing offensive pressure.

Defeating the Sabres 3-2 for their second win of the season, the Islanders will have a day off before taking on a few old friends in Tom Poti and Viktor Kozlov, who signed with the Washington Capitals over the summer.

Playing solid defense and getting significant contributions from their “Free Agent Line” through the first two games, Washington may have their hands full against a revamped and rejuvenated Islanders team.

“We’re taking steps in the right direction,” said DiPietro. “We have a great group of guys here and it’s starting to show.”