Tonight was a night of firsts at the First Niagara in Buffalo, NY. For one, it was the first ever Atlantic division matchup between the Buffalo Sabres and the Tampa Bay Lightning. It was also the first point of the season for the Sabres, but they still remain winless, falling 3-2 to the Lightning in overtime.
The momentum shifted in favor of Tampa Bay with just over five minutes gone in the third period. Jamie McBain scored what appeared to be the Sabres’ third goal of the game. Instead, the goal was disallowed on a penalty that originally looked to be in favor of Buffalo, but instead, went against Buffalo. The most troubling part of the play was that the Sabres clearly had possession of the puck for several seconds after the referee raised his arm to signal a penalty.
“I don’t know what happened there,” Rolston had commented after the game. “We had the puck too for I don’t know how many seconds. We thought we were going on the powerplay.”
Tampa Bay capitalized on the man-up advantage with a goal from Teddy Purcell and tied the game up at two goals a side. The Sabres battled back late in the third creating scoring chances, but were not able to find the back of the net.
“That was a big turn of events,” Tampa Bay’s coach Jon Cooper said. “The way it played out, that was a big momentum shift for us.”
The Lightning rode their momentum into overtime, and got the game winner at 1:50 off the stick of Alex Killorn to improve their record to 2-1. The Sabres continue to struggle as their record falls to 0-3-1.
The first period remained scoreless between these two teams, but there was no lack of excitement for the home crowd. Marcus Foligno made his presence felt early on in his season debut, laying down a crushing hit on Tampa Bay’s Valtteri Filppula, which led to a quick scrap with Radko Gudas that sent the pair tumbling to the ice. Steve Ott got involved in the action later on in the period, squaring off against Tampa Bay’s Victor Hedman.
The Sabres opened up the scoring midway through the second period on the power play. Cody Hodgson got a beautiful feed across the crease from Thomas Vanek, allowing him to slip it past Ben Bishop to put the Sabres up 1-0. This was Buffalo’s first successful power play of the season, as well as Cody Hodgson’s first goal of the season.
Tampa Bay answered quickly with a goal just over two minutes later from the stick of Tyler Johnson. He snapped a quick wrister that beat Jhonas Enroth over the shoulder to give Tampa their first tally of the night.
The Sabres would once again capitalize on their power play late in the second period to put them up 2-1. Jame McBain unleashed a powerful wrist-shot from the point that beat Tampa Bay’s netminder, earning his first goal of the season for the blue and gold.
Jhonas Enroth looked solid in net for the Sabres despite giving up three goals. He finished the night with 31 saves and was awarded the third star of the game.
Ron Rolston said after the game that Ryan Miller should be ready to go on Thursday as the Sabres take on the Columbus Blue Jackets at home.