Idle Tampa Bay Lightning falls into East basement

Published Jan. 15, 2012

UNIONDALE, N.Y. — Evgeni Nabokov earned his 300th career win as Michael Grabner scored the go-ahead goal with three minutes left, and the Islanders beat the Sabres 4-2 Saturday.

The win moved New York out of the Eastern Conference basement and combined with the Hurricanes' 4-2 win over the Bruins to put the Lightning in it. Tampa Bay and the Islanders have 38 points, but the Lightning gets the bottom spot because it has played more games.

Carolina, with 39 points, moved into the 13th spot in the 15-team East.

Nabokov, 36, made 23 saves to become the 26th NHL goalie with 300 wins.

"I want to keep playing because I'm not ready to look back," said Nabokov, who improved to 7-11 this season. "I am having fun doing my job."

He recorded 293 wins during a decade with the Sharks before joining the Islanders this season after being claimed off waivers last January. Only the Devils' Martin Brodeur, the Oilers' and former Lightning Nikolai Khabibulin, and the Canucks' Roberto Luongo have more wins among active goalies.

"I'm enjoying the guys here, and I want to keep working toward the playoffs," Nabokov said. "We still have 40 games left."

The Sabres, beset all season by injuries, have lost a franchise-worst eight straight road games in regulation. "This was another tough night for us," said Lindy Ruff, the league's longest-tenured coach. He has been behind the Buffalo bench since July 1997.

Game highlights: Jay Harrison scored the winning goal with 1:30 remaining for the host Hurricanes, who rallied for the 4-2 victory over the Bruins. The Hurricanes have won all three of their meetings with the Bruins this season. … The Red Wings won their 14th straight home game, equalling the team home winning streak record set in 1965, 3-2 over the Blackhawks in overtime on Todd Bertuzzi's second goal of the game. … Patrick Marleau scored off a rebound with 2:57 left to lead the Sharks to a 2-1 victory over the host Blue Jackets. The Sharks extended their point streak to eight games. They are 6-0-1 in the new year and 6-0-2 in their past eight.

Around the league: Next season's Winter Classic will be between the Red Wings and Maple Leafs and played at the University of Michigan's stadium, according to a report on the league-run NHL Network. But the report was not an announcement by the league. It said the league was expected to make an announcement before the Jan. 29 All-Star Game. This would be the first Winter Classic with a Canadian team. … Flyers wing James van Riemsdyk is out indefinitely with a concussion. He was hit in the head in each the Flyers' past two games, general manager Paul Holmgren said: "He reported (Friday) not feeling like himself."