Series (Game 1 of 4)

New York leads 3-1

Game 1: Thursday, October 10th
Game 2: Tuesday, December 31st
Game 3: Saturday, February 8th
Game 4: Saturday, March 1st

Islanders 1

(0-1-0, 0 pts)

Sabres 5

(1-0-0, 2 pts)

7:00 PM ET, October 10, 2002

First Niagara Center, Buffalo, New York

1 2 3 T
NYI 1 0 01
BUF 3 2 05

M. Biron (Sabres - G): Saves: 22, Save Pct.: .957

T. Connolly (Sabres - C): Goals: 1, Assists: 1

C. Gratton (Sabres - C): Goals: 1, Assists: 1

Sabres score three unanswered goals in first

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) -- Buffalo Sabres coach Lindy Ruff got the hard work and team unity he was looking for.

Chris Gratton

Tim Connolly

Chris Gratton, Tim Connolly and J.P. Dumont had a goal and an assist each as the Sabres opened the season with a 5-1 victory over the New York Islanders on Thursday night.

"Ever since we started training camp, I just kept hammering home emotion and intensity,'' Ruff said. "We developed a lot of chemistry throughout camp by playing that way. That was evident out there tonight.''

Many of the 12,224 in attendance at HSBC Arena were still getting settled in their seats when New York's Dave Scatchard scored a power-play goal on the game's first shot, jamming a loose puck between goalie Martin Biron's pad at 1:01.

Buffalo responded minutes later, when Stu Barnes completed a great passing play by redirecting a feed from Dumont past a sprawling Chris Osgood.

Gratton, with the third opening night goal of his career, and Jochen Hecht scored 1:31 apart late in the period to put Buffalo ahead 3-1.

Hecht's goal capped off a tremendous effort from Connolly, who carried the puck the length of the ice before dishing off to the Sabres' newcomer. Hecht then eluded two tangled defenders in the faceoff circle before burying a snap shot over Osgood's shoulder.

Connolly and Dumont scored-second period goals to round out the scoring for Buffalo.

Barnes said a total team effort is essential on a nightly basis.

"We don't have that one single guy who's a game-breaker,'' Barnes said. "All 20 guys on the ice have to be involved in the game for us to be successful.''

Biron turned aside 22 shots for Buffalo. He was especially sharp in the second period, making big saves on Alexei Yashin and Mark Parrish. Osgood gave up Buffalo's five goals on 20 shots in just two periods. He was replaced by Garth Snow in the third.

"We didn't take care of our slot like we usually do,'' said Osgood, who won 32 games last season. "We played good in the exhibition season. We were playing good defense and scoring goals. Tonight it was the exact opposite.''

There were 150 penalty minutes in the game, including five fights. Sabres' tough guy Eric Boulton was involved in three of the bouts, earning himself a broken nose and automatic game misconduct in the process.

Buffalo's Taylor Pyatt was ejected in the second period when he was given a match penalty for spearing Ray Schultz.

Game notes

The crowd of 12,224 was the lowest opening-night attendance in the seven-year history of HSBC Arena. ... Buffalo's record in season openers now stands at 18-12-3, while the Islanders are 8-15-8. ... Miroslav Satan played in his 246th consecutive game, tying him with Nashville's Greg Johnson for fourth spot among active players. ... Buffalo forward Maxim Afinogenov worked out symptom-free for a second consecutive day Thursday. Afinogenov missed training camp with a concussion after being hit above the right eye with a puck following a scrimmage in Russia on Sept. 5. ... Ales Kotalik, Dmitri Kalinin and Brian Campbell were scratched from the Sabres' lineup. ... Tomi Pettinen was the lone New York scratch.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press