UNIONDALE, N.Y.-Alexander Sulzer's goal with 12:25 left in the third period snapped a tie and lifted the Buffalo Sabres to a 3-2 win over the New York Islanders at Nassau Coliseum.
The Sabres and Islanders entered the day in a five-way tie for 10th-place in the Eastern Conference with nine points but continued going in different directions. The Sabres (5-6-1) won their second straight while the Islanders (4-6-1) lost their fourth in a row.
Thomas Vanek and Christian Ehrhoff also scored for the Sabres before Sulzer's slap shot sailed over the shoulder of Evgeni Nabokov and bounced over the red line as Islanders defenseman Thomas Hickey dove at it a frantic attempt to knock the puck out.
Sabres goalie Ryan Miller was under constant siege but made 41 saves in an impressive outing. Nabokov made 12 saves for the Islanders.
The Islanders, who never led despite their overwhelming shot advantage, had a golden chance to tie it with 3:53 left, but John Tavares' penalty shot bounced off the right goal post. The shot was set up when Tavares was hooked from behind by Ehrhoff on a breakaway.
The Sabres took the lead with 10:49 left in the first when Vanek snuck a loose puck through a pair of Islanders defensemen and Nabokov. It was Vanek's 11th goal in his last 11 games.
The Islanders outshot the Sabres 15-4 in the first and finally got the equalizer with 42 seconds left when Tavares reached around the left post and tucked the puck, which was skidding just in front of the red line, past Miller.
The Sabres regained the lead with an impressive 4-on-4 end-to-end rush, capped by Ehrhoff's wrist shot with 7:39 left in the second. Jordan Leopold began the sequence by digging a loose puck out from behind the Sabres' net and dishing it to Vanek, who hit Ehrhoff in stride before Ehrhoff passed the puck to Cody Hodgson, who passed it back to Ehrhoff to set up the goal.
The Islanders tied it again with 2:24 left in the second when Casey Cizikas backhanded the puck from behind the Sabres' net and right to Colin McDonald, who fired it past Miller for his second career goal and his first since Nov. 28, 2009.
Islanders defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky, who was suspended for the first 10 games while tending to a family matter in his native Slovakia, made his debut for New York and played 16 shifts, tied for second-most on the team, in the first two periods. Center Josh Bailey, who was sidelined with a knee injury suffered while playing in Germany during the lockout, also made his season debut and saw 9:20 of ice time through the first two periods.
NOTES: An announced crowd of 12,608 turned out to Nassau Coliseum less than 24 hours after a blizzard dumped as much as 33 inches of snow on Long Island. The Islanders have postponed just two games due to weather in their 40-season history - both because of blizzards on Feb. 7, 1978 and Mar. 13, 1993. ... As of faceoff Saturday night, the fate of the Sabres' home game Sunday against the Bruins was still uncertain. The Bruins-Lightning game in Boston was postponed because of the blizzard and Boston's Logan International Airport wasn't expected to open until 11 PM Saturday. ... The Islanders (1-3-0 at home entering Saturday) had just one win through their first four home games for only the third time in the last 12 seasons. ... Sabres defenseman Tyler Myers was among Buffalo's healthy scratches. Myers has a plus/minus of negative-9 through 11 games.