In the final match up of the season between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Buffalo Sabres, the Sabres spoiled the season sweep by the Lightning with a final score of 4-1. Though there was some concern of whether Anton Stralman and Cedric Paquette would draw in to the game due to injury, both played.
Before the game, Jon Cooper said that the previous series' games haven't been indicative of how close the games have been between the Lightning and Sabres and tonight proved his point.
"We're sitting here 3-0 against Buffalo and probably don't deserve to be," Cooper said. "We can't say we've beaten these guys three times, we can throw our sticks in the middle of the ice. It isn't going to be easy. A few of these periods they have dominated us more than any other team has this year."
The lone goal for the Lightning came from Steven Stamkos (8) on the powerplay. Jack Eichel (6), Cody Franson (1), Marcus Foligno (1) and Rasmus Ristolainen (4) scored for the Sabres.
As expected, Andrei Vasilevskiy started in net, posting a 88.5% save percentage with 23 saves on 26 shots.
Lightning pre-game lines were listed as:
These were very similar to the lines that posted the 4-1 win over the Sabres last week, the only difference being Jonathan Drouin slotting in on the first line for for the injured Ondrej Palat (who was sorely missed tonight).
Defense pairings were:
First Period Thoughts:
The Johnson line started the game, with Hedman and Stralman on defense. Sabres came out firing and pressuring, the first 5 minutes or so played mostly in their end. Jason Garrison was pinned on the ice for nearly 2 minutes.
Cedric Paquette took a hooking penalty at 4:05. A strong kill through the first minute, especially by Ryan Callahan. With 8 seconds left in the penalty, Eichel scored when Vasilevskiy lost his stick.
Marcus Foligno took a hooking penalty at 8:38. The Tampa powerplay again looked listless and Ryan O'Reilly nearly got a breakaway. Drouin was put back on the 2nd unit.
Vasilevskiy made a great save on an Eichel breakaway that should have never happened at 11:16.
David Legwand took a tripping penalty at 14:35. The Bolts were unable to get a clean entry on the zone in the first 30 seconds or through the rest of the powerplay. It was a solid kill by the Sabres, who immediately received a good look at scoring.
Lines changed! JT Brown moved up to be with Callahan and Paquette.
Shots at the end of the 1st: 11-5, Sabres. Best Bolt on the ice by far was Callahan.
Second Period Thoughts:
Immediately, Callahan took a stick to the throat and was shaken up - penalty for high-sticking by O'Reilly. That penalty led to a powerplay goal by Steven Stamkos, 52 seconds into the 2nd. Unfortunately, Cody Franson answered back only 45 seconds later.
Chad Johnson had an amazing save on Nikita Kucherov.
Chad Johnson save pic.twitter.com/KFMUHZKJTU— Stephanie (@myregularface) November 11, 2015
another look at Chad Johnson's save pic.twitter.com/neUtUNVmBY— Stephanie (@myregularface) November 11, 2015Bolts had a lot more jump in the first couple of minutes, the Franson goal notwithstanding.
Franson took a penalty for hooking, but Stamkos evened the numbers with a slashing call on a Brian Gionta breakaway.
Vasilevskiy HOLD ONTO YOUR STICK — something I yelled at my television quite a few times tonight.
Sometime in the second, we had a blender happen to the lines... They seemed to be
Shots to end the 2nd: 13-8, Bolts.
Third Period Thoughts:
The Bolts needed a strong finish and the first minute or so looked good. There was steady play until Vasilevskiy flubbed a save, leading to a goal about five and a half minutes in. Drouin was demoted down to the 4th line... or perhaps, not demoted but an attempt to give the bottom line a little more offensive power.
With more than 3 minutes left, Vasilevskiy was pulled for the extra attacker. At 2:10 left, Vasilevskiy still on the bench, and the most life I saw in the Bolts in the third. Filppula had a good steal either on Eichel or Foligno. Unfortunately, Buffalo nailed the empty net goal with 36 seconds left, sealing the Bolts' fate.
Third period shots were also 13-8, Bolts. Final shots on goal count was 31-27, Bolts.
- Lightning scratches were Ondrej Palat (lower body), Mike Blunden (healthy), and Nikita Nesterov (healthy).
- Lightning were 1 for 5 on the powerplay.
- Ryan Callahan was by far the most noticeable player for the Lightning, drawing two penalties and creating scoring chances all through the night. He earned a promotion back to the first line sometime in the second period and the second star of the game.
- Vasilevskiy lost his stick not once... not twice... but three times tonight.
- This was the eighth time this season Coach Cooper was forced to pull his goalie at the end of the game for the extra attacker. Also was the eighth time the Lightning were held to one goal or less.
- First time the Lightning have fallen below .500 on the season since the 2012-2013 season.
- Victor Hedman (24:15) led Tampa Bay in ice time while Rasmus Ristolainen (26:28) led all players.