Uniondale, NY -- Evgeni Nabokov secured his 300th career win on an already special night when the Islanders organization inducted Pat Flatley into the team’s hall of fame. Michael Grabner scored the go ahead goal at the 16:57 of the third period and then secured the win scoring on an empty net.
“I guess it’s nice to have it in the pocket,” Nabokov said after the game about win 300. “But it’s not the biggest thing. I’m glad that it’s kind of behind us… hopefully many more [wins] in front of me.”
Win was nearly derailed when the officials called Mark Streit on a questionable delay of game penalty and awarded Thomas Vanek a penalty shot. Vanek’s shot beat Nabokov, but was stopped by the goal post.
“Well I didn’t really stop it,” Nabokov said about the penalty shot. “The post that stopped it, but I’d like to say that the only area was open was my post.”The Islanders opened the scoring when Matt Moulson scored on a rebound late in the first period. The Sabres Patrick Kaleta redirect a shot from the point late in the second period to tie the game, but the Islanders responded less than two minutes later. Matt Moulson set up Kyle Okposo on an odd man rush to give the Islanders the lead for the second time in the game. Buffalo scored 42 seconds later to tie the game back up.
Michael Grabner scored the game winner in the third and added one more on an empty net goal.
“It’s nice to get a couple goals here,” said Grabner, who has been snake bitten for better parts of this season. “Hopefully I can keep up now… I was shooting the puck, trying to deke him and it’s nice to get the one. Hopefully I can just move forward now and not think about the missed chances and just try to score some more in the next games.”
“Grabs works extremely hard every night,” head coach Jack Capuano said after the game. “He’s getting his chances, he hasn’t got the bounces that he wanted, but tonight he was in the right place at the right time again and right around that rebound and put it in the back of the net for us.”
The win puts Nabokov with an elite group of goaltenders. Only 26 other goalies have reached 300 victories.
“You think about the amount of games that a goaltender has to play to get 300th victory,” Capuano said about the milestone. “So it’s an honor well deserved.”
“It’s obviously an exciting time for him,” added Matt Martin. “I think we’re pretty happy to be a part of it and help contribute to that. Obviously he’s a veteran player and a big part of this room. He’s quite the character as well. It’s good for him to be at the 300 and hopefully he has many more.”
His start Saturday night was Nabokov’s 11th consecutive and Capuano didn’t think twice about starting the veteran against the Sabres.
“We’ll he’s a guy that’s played a lot of hockey,” Capuano commented. “He’s proven that he can play 60-70 games a year and we didn’t hesitate to throw him back in their today after the amount of hockey that he’s played. He’s proven that he’s a top goalie and he’s played extremely well for us.”
Evgeni Nabokov on how he feels after playing so many games:
“I feel better than I did the first five games to be honest with you. I think the way we managed the practices and days off, it’s not even an issue whatsoever.”
Evgeni Nabokov on the opposing team crashing the net:
“Every team right now is kind of doing that. Everybody is trying to create the traffic and get the pucks through. For us it’s a team defense, not only defensemen, it’s the forwards coming back and staying in the lanes and helping out. Either it’s a rebound or a straight shot.”
Matt Martin on his fight:
“He just came at me. I don’t really remember too much of how it started. I guess I figured it was a good time to go… I don’t know too much about him, he came up from the [AHL]. He has a lot of penalty minutes in the [AHL], so I was kind of expecting him to be a fighter and he’s a big guy and we had a big fight.”
Michael Grabner on Nabokov’s 300th win:“It gives him a lot confidence and it’s a big accomplishment for him. It’s definitely a great honor and it’s nice to see him get it tonight.”
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