"(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.
The defenseman attempted to have the trade overturned, and subsequently said through his agent that he wanted to play this season with HC Slovan of the Kontinental Hockey League.
The announced crowd of 12,608 alternated between booing Visnovsky and chanting "Lubo."
"I was pleased with his game for a guy who hasn't played for the last three, four weeks," Capuano said.
Bailey started the game on a line with Casey Cizikas and Matt Martin. Visnovsky was paired with Strait at even strength, and then with captain Mark Streit on New York's first power play. Bailey was even in 12:48 of ice time. Visnovsky logged 20:34.
NOTES: Buffalo scratched defenseman Tyler Myers and forwards Matt Ellis and Cody McCormick. Myers has a minus-9 rating and 12 penalty minutes in 11 games. ... Eric Boulton, Joe Finley and Marty Reasoner were scratched by the Islanders. ... Buffalo improved to 70-59-22 against the Islanders.