With the win, the Lightning claimed 10 of a possible 14 points during what will have been the longest homestand of the season.
After facing last year's Stanley Cup participants in their last two games (the runners-up Boston Bruins and the defending world champion Chicago Blackhawks), the Lightning found themselves tested in a battle against the Buffalo Sabres, a team at the bottom of the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference standings.
"That's what makes you in this league. The good teams always find a way to win. It's not always going to be perfect. We're not looking for perfection, we're looking for results." - Lightning forward Martin St. Louis
Just after the halfway point of the second period, a giveaway from the Lightning defense put the puck on a tee right in front of goaltender Ben Bishop. He stopped the original shot but a scramble ensued, Bishop lost his stick and eventually Brian Flynn potted the goal on assists from Cody McCormick and Ville Leino, tying the game at 12:58.
The two teams headed into the third period tied at one.
Not that the Lightning had been lax prior to falling behind, having been denied repeatedly on good scoring chances by Miller in the net for Buffalo, but they seemed to find an extra gear at that point and mounted their best sustained offensive attack of the game. As a result, Martin St. Louis tied the game again at 14:09 with assists from Steven Stamkos and Radko Gudas.
"We finally got it past Miller at an opportunistic time, We had some grade A chances and MIller was outstanding." - Lightning head coach Jon Cooper
Just under two minutes later, at 15:55 Ondrej Palat scored the eventual game winner on a great individual effort. He worked the puck in deep, passed to Johnson in the corner and then scored the goal off of Johnson's rebound.
"It's awesome. We have good fans and we just need to keep going. When you play at home and you hear the crowd and everyone cheering for you, it's awesome, you just get pumped up." - Palat
The Lightning now head out for a three-game road trip, beginning tomorrow when they visit the Florida Panthers. They'll also travel to New Jersey and Carolina before returning home to host the St. Louis Blues next Saturday, November 2.
- This was the finale of a season-long seven-game homestand.
- Only 20 goals have been scored between the Sabres and Lightning combined in their last five meetings.
- This is the first back-to-back of the season for Tampa Bay, with a game against the Panthers tomorrow in Sunrise.
- Stamkos was productive on faceoffs tonight, winning 12 of 19 for 63%.
- The Lightning's 39 shots were a season high. They outshot Buffalo 39-22.
- 3-2 was also the score when the Lightning beat the Sabres in Buffalo on October 8th. The two teams will not meet again until March.
- The Lightning honored Dwayne Scheuneman as the seventh Lightning Community Hero of the year during the first period of tonight's game. Scheuneman, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will donate the money to REVolutions Dance, Great Explorations, the Center for Autism and Related Disabilities/USF Foundation, Tampa Generals Wheelchair Rugby/Tampa General Hospital Foundation, Hampton Arts Management, Hands Across the Bay, VSA and the Marcia P. Hoffman Institute/Ruth Eckerd Hall. Scheuneman suffered a dramatic event that changed his life forever and rather than let it get him down, he's risen up against it and decided to help those in similar situations. After an accident which paralyzed him from the chest down, Scheuneman did not slow down. He became a competitive wheelchair athlete in 2003 and after seven medals at the National Veterans Wheelchair Games, left athletics and started a nonprofit that teaches disabled kids how to dance. For the past 10 years, Scheuneman's dance classes and performances have helped children of all disadvantages create and learn together. Going above and beyond with his commitment to enhance the lives of those in need of support, Scheuneman changes the lives of the people he deals with. He organizes and presents dance concerts that showcase a variety of talent and give opportunities to disabled performers. Scheuneman brings hope to his students and raises their esteem through dance.