UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- Thomas Vanek and Tyler Ennis scored in the shootout Tuesday night as the Buffalo Sabres earned their first win of the season by edging the New York Islanders 4-3 at Nassau Coliseum.
The Sabres (1-6-1) scored more than two goals for the first time this season and avoided the worst start in franchise history. Buffalo has never been winless through eight games.
The Sabres, who never led in regulation, forced overtime with 2:01 left, when Marcus Foligno's shot threaded a pair of Islanders defensemen and snuck past goalie Evgeni Nabokov.
The Islanders took a quick lead in the shootout when Matt Moulson beat Ryan Miller, but Vanek and Ennis scored and Miller stopped Frans Nielsen and John Tavares.
Ennis and Vanek also scored in regulation for the Sabres, who have led for just nine minutes and 35 seconds this season. Miller had 42 saves.
The shootout capped an entertaining game that had a little bit of everything, including 78 shots on goal, 10 penalties, three ties, one fight and numerous skirmishes.
Moulson, Nielsen and Matt Martin scored for the Islanders (2-2-2), who lost their third straight. Nabokov had 30 saves.
The Sabres' Zemgus Girgensons left with a little more than two minutes left in the first when he was hit in the face by a puck fired by teammate Tyler Myers. Girgensons, who was in a gaggle of players in front of the Islanders' net, went down as the players around him motioned for help. Girgensons, bleeding profusely, skated off on his own as he held a towel to his head.
A clearing pass by Nabokov began a coast-to-coast rush that Nielsen capped with his third goal of the season at the 13:11 mark of the first. Nielsen, shadowed by Mark Pysyk, took a pass from Josh Bailey just beyond center ice and skated to a halt. With Pysyk momentarily frozen, Nielsen fired a shot over Miller's left shoulder.
Action picked up in the second, when the Sabres tied the score in fluky fashion at the 5:24 mark. A shot by Christian Ehrhoff ticked off the stick of Drew Stafford and rolled towards Nabokov, who made a smothering motion. But the puck had actually gotten behind him and rested in the back of the goalmouth until Ennis raced in and poked the puck over the red line.
The Islanders grabbed the lead back less than three minutes later, when Casey Cizikas grabbed the rebound of his own shot and passed to Martin, who fired the puck past Miller.
Buffalo got a rare second goal a mere 71 seconds later, when Vanek caught Nabokov leaning to the right and tucked the puck into the left corner of the net.
Moulson's goal -- which he was credited with when a shot from John Tavares into a crowd in front of the Sabres' net ticked off Moulson and past goalie Ryan Miller -- came less than a minute after Moulson and Tavares were at the center of the fracas that resulted in the Islanders' power play.
NOTES: Sabres RW Patrick Kaleta was suspended 10 games for delivering an illegal check to the head of Columbus Blue Jackets D Jack Johnson last Thursday. Kaleta, who was suspended five games for an illegal hit last year and is considered a repeat offender by the NHL, met Tuesday afternoon with NHL director of player safety Brendan Shanahan. Tuesday night marked Game 3 of the suspension, as he sat out pending the appeal. ... The Islanders scratched D Matt Donovan, RW Colin McDonald and C Brock Nelson. The Sabres scratched Kaleta, C Mikhail Grigorenko and D Jamie McBain. ... The Islanders have five homestands of four games or longer this season, though the final game in a four-game set from Jan. 23-Jan. 29 will be played against the Rangers at Yankee Stadium. Their five consecutive home games from Feb. 6 through March 2 include the 19-day Olympic break. ... The Sabres were winless through seven games twice in the pre-shootout era: In 1999-2000 (0-5-2) and 1990-91 (0-4-3). They recovered to make the playoffs in both seasons.