Tonawanda News — Sulzer put the Sabres ahead for good 7:35 into the third, and Miller made sure they would leave snowy Long Island with a win. Sulzer's shot appeared to bounce off the ice and in the net over Nabokov's shoulder.
"Just one-timed it," Sulzer said. "Maybe (the puck hit him in a) tough spot."
Vanek, the NHL leader with 11 goals, opened the scoring 9:28 into the game. The forward was stationed in front of Nabokov and jammed a loose puck over him.
Tavares got the Islanders even at 1 in the final minute of the first period with his sixth goal of the season. After he got free from Ehrhoff, Tavares planted himself on the far side of the net before stuffing Brian Strait's shot past Miller.
Ehrhoff atoned for an earlier mistake by giving the Sabres a 2-1 lead 12:21 into the second with his first goal of the season. Ehrhoff, Vanek and Cody Hodgson played a three-man passing game through the neutral zone.
"(Hodgson) hit me back through the middle, and (I) put it in," Ehrhoff said. "That was definitely a good play."
However, that lead was also short-lived as McDonald scored the tying goal with 2:25 left in the second. He snapped a shot from the slot past Miller for his first goal of the season, and the second of his NHL career.
The Islanders got a pair of previously suspended players into their lineup for the first time this season.
Defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky, who made his Islanders debut, and forward Josh Bailey made their debuts.
Bailey was on the club's suspended list because of an injury he sustained while playing in Germany during the NHL lockout that prevented him from playing when the season started.
Visnovsky, acquired in a trade after last season, was suspended by New York after he chose not to report to the team when the lockout ended.