Sabres edge Islanders with shootout victory

UNIONDALE, N.Y. (AP) -- The Buffalo Sabres never gave up and
earned two points for their effort.

Ales Kotalik and Tim Connolly scored in a shootout, giving
Buffalo a 4-3 victory over the New York Islanders on Wednesday

Kotalik tied the score at 3 with 2:49 left in the third period.
Chris Drury and Jochen Hecht also scored for the Sabres, 4-1-0-1 in
their past six games. Martin Biron stopped 23 shots, one night
after Buffalo lost at home to the New York Rangers in a shootout.

"This was a huge win for us," Kotalik said. "We had luck on
our side tonight."

Mike York, Brent Sopel and Jason Blake had goals for the
Islanders, beaten for the first time in 62 games when leading after
two periods. They were 53-0-8 in their previous 61 games when they
had the lead after 40 minutes.

Kotalik's tying goal came when he beat Sopel to the outside on a
rush down left wing, then flipped a backhand under the crossbar.

"I think their defenseman didn't think I could beat him wide,"
Kotalik said, "but once I got a step on him, I was by him and had
the chance for the shot."

Sopel was upset with himself for that play.

"That was a joke," he said. "It was my fault all the way. I
cost the team a point. I'll take full responsibility -- you can't
let a guy beat you like that."

Buffalo dominated in overtime but could not win it until Kotalik
and Connolly, its first and third shooters, respectively, put
backhands past goalie Rick DiPietro to win the shootout 2-0.

Alexei Yashin and Blake missed their shootout attempts for New
York. DiPietro made 25 saves.

The Islanders broke through at 15:04 of the first period when
defenseman Chris Campoli wound up at the left point and rocketed a
slap-pass to York, who was at the right crease for a redirect.

The Sabres tied it at 17:29 when Drury found a loose puck in the
crease during a power play and backhanded it home for the first
man-advantage goal the Islanders have allowed in 38 chances. The
previous power-play goal against them scored was Vladimir
Malakhov's score for New Jersey on Nov. 8.

The Islanders scored twice in the first five minutes of the
second period to go up 3-1.

At 3:30, Sopel tipped Trent Hunter's pass out past Biron. Just
52 seconds later, Blake sent a shot from the left side by Biron.

Hecht answered at 5:48 with a tip-in.

"Jochen's quick answer to their two goals was the turning
point," Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff said. "It took away momentum
from them, and it added momentum for us."

Islanders coach Steve Stirling was less than pleased with his
team's effort in the last 35 minutes.

"They kept skating and it looked like we stopped," Stirling
said. "Buffalo is a better team than we are. They're built for the
new rules."

Biron was impressed by his team's play in the final period.

"I think this was the best third period and overtime we've
played on the road this season," Biron said. "We really bounced
back after we were down 3-1, and we just kept skating and working
in that last period and in overtime."

The Sabres outshot the Islanders 5-0 in overtime.

Game notes
Islanders forward Shawn Bates was placed on injured reserve
after straining his hamstring during Saturday's win at Florida.
Bates had 10 goals and two assists, and led the NHL in shooting
percentage (35.7). ... C Jeremy Cotillion made his NHL debut with
the Islanders, taking Bates' roster spot. ... The Sabres are 6-1-1
against the Atlantic Division, with three wins coming against the