Houser, ECHL goalie, wins NHL debut for Sabres against Islanders

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BUFFALO — Michael Houser made 34 saves in his NHL debut, and the Buffalo Sabres rallied for a 4-2 win against the New York Islanders at KeyBank Center on Monday.

The 28-year-old hadn’t started a professional game since March 7, 2020 with Cincinnati of the ECHL, making 24 saves in a 1-0 shutout against Toledo.

Sam Reinhart deflected a Rasmus Ristolainen point shot at 15:56 of the third period and then scored into an empty net at 19:08 to complete the comeback for Buffalo, which trailed 2-0 in the second.

Tage Thompson had a goal and an assist for the Sabres (14-32-7), who ended a four-game losing streak.

Adam Pelech had a goal and an assist for the Islanders (31-16-5), who failed to keep pace in the MassMutual East Division race. Semyon Varlamov made 36 saves and had his shutout streak end at 248 minutes.

It was the opener of a two-game set; the teams will play here again Tuesday.

Pelech’s pass attempt from the left circle deflected off Sabres defenseman Henri Jokiharju‘s stick and over Houser’s pad to give the Islanders a 1-0 lead at 9:15 of the first period.

Ryan Pulock scored 35 seconds into the second period, but the Sabres won a challenge for goalie interference.

Oliver Wahlstrom made it 2-0 at 10:42 when he redirected Pelech’s shot from the slot.

Varlamov’s shutout streak ended when Thompson cut it to 2-1 from the right circle at 14:04.

Rasmus Asplund tied it 2-2 when he took a pass from Reinhart at the side of the net at 11:25.

Houser made 15 saves in the third period.

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