The New York Islanders scored six goals in a season-opening win at Buffalo. Their offense hasn’t been nearly that productive in the two-plus months which have followed.
The Islanders look for a goal-scoring resurgence and try defeat the Sabres for the third time in as many meetings this season when the teams face off Wednesday night at HSBC Arena.
After a very active offseason gave the Islanders (14-12-2) a new top line, the unit of Bill Guerin, Mike Comrie and Ruslan Fedotenko got off to an impressive start in New York’s 6-4 victory at Buffalo on Oct. 5.
The line combined for three goals and seven assists in the opener. That trio was at it again the next night in a 3-2 home win over the Sabres, as Guerin, Comrie and Fedotenko combined for two goals and four assists.
Since that early flourish, the top line - along with the rest of the Islanders - has struggled to generate much offense. New York ranks last in the NHL with 63 goals, and has scored three or fewer in each of the last 18 games.
Comrie leads the team with 13 assists and 22 points, but Guerin had gone 16 games without a goal before scoring in Saturday’s 3-2 overtime win at Tampa Bay.
Fedotenko, meanwhile, has no goals in his last 10 contests. He will miss his second straight game Wednesday with a shoulder injury.
“It’s one of those injuries that it’s better to take an extra day than risk another couple of weeks,” Islanders coach Ted Nolan told the team’s official Web site. “He’s pretty close to returning. Hopefully he’ll be ready by next game.”
“We were desperate for a win,” said DiPietro, who allowed three goals or fewer for the 22nd time in 26 starts. “We haven’t been playing our best hockey, so to come into Tampa, it’s a good win for us.”
DiPietro was in net for both of the Islanders’ October wins over the Sabres. He has won three straight starts in all versus Buffalo.
Coming off an impressive 7-1 victory Saturday at Saturday at San Jose, the Sabres ran into a red-hot goaltender Monday and fell 4-1 at home to Boston.
“We have to find a way to score,” Sabres right wing Jason Pominville said. “We’re not going to win many games getting one goal.”
Pominville and left wing Thomas Vanek have combined for only 16 goals this season after they accounted for 77 in 2006-07. Vanek, though, has picked up his production lately, scoring three goals in his last five games.
The Sabres - currently in a stretch of four games in six days - are last in the Northeast Division with 27 points. Only Washington has fewer in the Eastern Conference.
Goaltender Ryan Miller has struggled lately against the Islanders, going 1-3-0 with a 4.57 GAA in his last four starts.