BUFFALO, N.Y. — Michael Houser stopped 34 shots in his NHL debut, Sam Reinhart scored twice in Buffalo’s three-goal third period and the Sabres beat the playoff-bound New York Islanders 4-2 on Monday night.
Tage Thompson and Rasmund Asplund also scored for Buffalo, which trailed 2-0 early in the second period.
"It’s super exciting. I’m not really in that great of game shape either, I’ll admit that," the 28-year-old Houser said. "After the game celebrating and everything, I could barely breathe so I’m just trying to catch my breath right now, give my parents a shout after this and see what their take is on it."
First NHL game. First NHL win. The smile says it all. Congratulations, Michael Houser! pic.twitter.com/hRJ4SGHENY
Houser spent the past 8 1/2 seasons in the minor leagues. It was his first game since March 7, 2020, with Cincinnati of the ECHL.
"A very special night, special person," Sabres coach Don Granato said. "So, great to be a part of it. And the locker room was even better. The rallying in the locker room was very, very enjoyable for all. What a moment."
Adam Pelech and Oliver Wahlstrom scored for the Islanders. Semyon Varlamov, coming off three straight shutouts, finished with 36 saves.
The Islanders fell to fourth place in the Eastern Division — one point behind Boston, which beat New Jersey 3-0. The Bruins also have a game in hand on the Islanders.
"I thought we played with a little bit of arrogance," Islanders coach Barry Trotz said. "You know, let’s get in the inside, play our game and we were just saying, `oh it’s going to be easy, we’ve got a lead,’ and then we just made it easy for them."
The teams finish their season series Tuesday night in Buffalo.
Thompson’s power-play goal got the Sabres on the scoreboard with 5:56 left in the second period and ended Varlamov’s shutout streak at 248 minutes.
Asplund tied the score with 8:35 remaining in the third.
Reinhart gave the Sabres a 3-2 lead with 4:04 left and sealed the win with an empty-netter, his career high-tying 25th, with 52 seconds to go.
"A hundred per cent (disappointing)," Islanders defenceman Adam Pelech said. "Even though we clinched a playoff spot and had an emotional weekend (against the New York Rangers), that’s not an excuse. … We need to be better tomorrow night and going forward for the rest of the season here heading into the playoffs."
SABRES ADD A GOALIE
Buffalo signed goalie Stefanos Lekkas to a professional tryout deal on Monday. Lekkas was the backup for the Sabres AHL team in Rochester and is 1-4-1 with a .863 save percentage with a 4.32 goals-against average. He backed up Houser on Monday night due to injuries to goalies Dustin Tokarski, Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, Carter Hutton, and Linus Ullmark.
Sabres: Tokarski did not dress. Interim coach Don Granato said Monday morning they wanted to give Tokarski a day off.
Islanders: Forward Jean-Gabriel Pageau was replaced by Travis Zajac in the lineup. Pageau missed part of the third period of the Islanders’ 3-0 win against the Rangers on Saturday.