Trent Hunter's goal in the eighth round of a shootout made Rick DiPietro a winner in his first game on Long Island in over a year.
DiPietro made 31 saves through overtime and then turned aside five shooters in the tiebreaker as the New York Islanders beat the Buffalo Sabres 3-2 on Saturday night.
Limited to only three NHL games in over a year because of a knee injury, DiPietro got the Islanders to a shootout even though he couldn't protect a one-goal lead in the third period. His last save against Patrick Kaleta gave New York its fifth win in six games.
Ryan Miller also allowed goals to Rob Schremp and Matt Moulson in the shootout after a 36-save effort. Buffalo, in the second game of a seven-game trip, is 7-0-3 in its last 10.
In a matchup of U.S. Olympic goalies past and present, DiPietro — the 2006 starter at the Turin Games — played well in his second start of the season and first at home since Dec. 26, 2008. He made his season debut eight days earlier, stopping 24 of 28 shots in a 4-3 loss at Dallas.
Mike Grier and Drew Stafford scored against him to get Buffalo into the shootout.
Miller, the likely No. 1 American goalie next month at the Vancouver Olympics, allowed goals to John Tavares in the first period and Sean Bergenheim in the second.
The Islanders thought they had their second two-goal lead of the game when Richard Park fired in a shot from above the left circle 6:24 into the third, but the goal was waved off because of interference on Miller by defenceman Andy Sutton.
New York coach Scott Gordon unsuccessfully pleaded his case from the bench as several replays shown on the centre-ice video board drew increasingly louder groans and boos with each showing.
Instead of being down 3-1, the Sabres were soon in a 2-2 tie. DiPietro stopped defenceman Chris Butler's shot from the left point, but Stafford got to the puck, kicked it toward the net, and then nudged it in with his stick at 9:35.
The Islanders struck first, despite being outshot 8-1 early. Kyle Okposo's shot bounded off Miller's pads and was followed up by the onrushing Tavares, who lifted the puck over the goalie at 5:38. It was the rookie Tavares' 17th goal of the season, but first in 10 games.
New York held the Sabres to only three shots the rest of the period. Buffalo had only six shots in the second. The Sabres managed to get the deficit quickly back to a goal after Bergenheim staked the Islanders to a 2-0 edge with 4:27 left in the second.
Bergenheim has a goal and an assist in two games since returning Tuesday from a rib injury that forced him to miss 16.
The Sabres got that goal back 21 seconds later when Tim Connolly's shot from the left side hit Grier and caromed past DiPietro. The assist stretched Connolly's career-best point streak to 11 games, the longest current run in the NHL.
New York failed to capitalize on having the first four power plays. Buffalo had only two.
DiPietro seemed fairly sharp even through long stretches in which the Sabres registered few shots. DiPietro, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2000 draft, was welcomed warmly during pregame introductions and heard other cheers after a video tribute welcoming him back was shown during a first-period stoppage.
DiPietro stylishly snagged a rising shot by rookie defenceman Tyler Myers in the second period, drawing chants of "DP, DP" from the crowd.
The Islanders, outshot 12-4 in the third period after a 21-6 edge in the second, were robbed in the middle frame by Miller after Moulson set up Frans Nielsen in front.