The Tampa Bay Lightning fell to the Buffalo Sabres 6-5 in overtime. They got a singular point for the home crowd to extend their home point streak to 16 games, but there will be disappointment on missing out on both points. Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed six goals on 23 shots, all but one of the goals being either a clear odd-man rush or a full-on breakaway.
Hedman, Stamkos, Colton, Cirelli, and Point all scored for the Lightning. Point had four points in the loss as he notched three assists to go along with his goal. Tage Thompson got a hat trick for Buffalo, while Girgensons, Quinn, and Lyubushkin all scored as well.
The Sabres exploited holes behind the Lightning’s offense as they found ways to turn the defenders or the wingers that were rotating. They went for a lot of stretch passes or guys blowing the zone early to relieve pressure defensively. Their speed and threat off the rush forced mistakes and resulted in their success and the Lightning’s loss.
Stamkos opens the scoring! The captain got past his check in the neutral zone and had an open path all the way to the net. He took it, and the shot, and gave the Lightning the early lead.
Girgensons scored for the Sabres to tie the game midway through the period. Sergachev got double-teamed in the corner, the puck came around the horn, and Girgensons scored. I think Stamkos got lost somewhere in the middle of the zone and didn’t support and attack the puck. Could be wrong, though.
From a shots perspective, it was an even period in terms of attempts at 14, but the Lightning were getting a lot more chances on net (9-2). A part of this was the Lightning being able to get shots from closer in. No penalties, all 5v5, fun hockey early on.
Then the game got chippy. Cirelli was jawing with everyone, including Samuelsson as the Sabres defender took a penalty, and then Okposo after the Sabres killed off the penalty (not without several great chances for the Bolts).
Paul and Dahlin got into a shoving match, followed closely by Tuch and Hagel. The spark of this came when Paul got called for interference for his hit behind the play on Dahlin
Thompson scored on the ensuing power play. Hagel was trying for some offense, but he lost the puck along the boards in the offensive zone, Cole jumped into the play despite being down a skater, leaving Cernak all alone to defend a 3-on-1. Clumsy, poor decisions leading to Buffalo’s first lead of the night.
Another break for Thompson and he buries it on the same glove side as Vasilevskiy. The east-west reach Thompson can pull off was just too far for Vasy to track. Skinner with the long pass as the Lightning got caught deep. Cole burned twice in a row.
HEDDY!!! Paul sent a cross-ice pass to Maroon after stealing the puck in the offensive zone. Maroon was tangled with a Sabres defender to collect the puck, but Hedman jumped down and scored with the quick slapshot. Heddy had been all over the puck in the second period so this was definitely earned.
Another goal in quick succession, Jack Quinn sneaking a snapshot under Vasilevskiy’s arm to double the lead again.
Three goals in 65 seconds really changed the tone of the game. It was much more open, there was a lot less successful defending at the blueline as both teams stretched out their formations. It’s definitely true that the Lightning were aiming to apply pressure while Buffalo were looking for those outlet passes.
Pointer with a crucial goal early in the third to bring the Lightning right back into the game! Point started the play by winning the puck along the board and making a beeline for Comrie at the other net. He skated by all the Sabres defenders, collected the pass from Hedman, and slipped a backhand under Comrie for the goal. That’s a star player.
Also a star players was Thompson with the hat trick to get the Sabres cushion back. Hedman had a good chance at one end as the Lightning were piling on the pressure, but Sergachev and Kucherov couldn’t handle the arial pass up the ice as the Sabres defender cleared the puck. Thompson got behind both of them and buried another rush goal on Vasilevskiy. Kucherov was definitely not the ideal defender in that scenario as he didn’t cover the space, but collided with Sergachev going for the puck. This goal came about a minute after Point’s.
Cirelli!! The Lightning needed a quick response and they got it from Cirelli finding the puck in a massive crowd in front of the net. Good move from Cernak to get the puck in front of the net while Cirelli was behind Samuelsson.
Too many men penalty for the Sabres with 6:15 left in regulation, sending the Lightning to the power play. Deep breaths.
And they do it! Colton found the top corner on the power play as the second unit started to come on in the second minute of the too many men power play. The Bolts probably made one pass too many as they went around the horn, sending Sabres sprawling in all directions, because it eventually took Colton at the top of the circle to perfectly wire a one-timer past Comrie.
As the broadcast described, Colton got all the things right on his shot. He got ice early to add whip on his stick, and he got the puck early on his stick where there’s more curve, helping to elevate the puck. And he put all his legs and hips into it for full power. It all paid off as he smashed the top corner, tying the game late.
In the dying seconds of regulation as the Lightning refused to slow down, Henri Jokiharju took a puck over glass penalty, giving the Lightning a power play into overtime.
Unfortunately, Ilya Lyubushkin got his first goal of the year on a breakaway to end the game. I think it’s very obvious a hooking penalty should have been called on the tall defender as he pulled Stamkos down. I don’t think the refs realize pushing a guy with the end of your stick to knock him down then pulling him with the hook is all still a penalty. Stamkos didn’t miss the puck and fall on his own. Look at the replay, he pushed Stamkos past the puck then tugged and pulled him down. You can call whichever part you want a penalty.