If you tuned in late to this game, you weren't surprised by the score when you tuned in, but you were surprised the Sabres were winning 3-0. After three consecutive bad starts the Sabres turned things around against the Lightning. Jason Pominville scored twice in the first period, including a power play goal, and Tyler Myers added his 10th goal of the season in the first frame.
The tone of this game was set early for the Buffalo Sabres. Chris Butler was hit hard into the boards by Todd Fedoruk, Craig Rivet played the part of captain and immediately went after Fedoruk. After a spirited bout with no clear cut winner, the Sabres found themselves down two defensemen with Butler down and Rivet receiving an instigator penalty. The team picked up their captain by killing off the ensuing power play and then they went on the offensive.
Despite the Sabres dominating the first 20 minutes, the Lightning would not go quietly. They started to generate some offensive chances in the second period but the Sabres and especially Ryan Miller made sure to keep them of the board. Miller made plenty of good saves and none was more important than stopping Vinny Lecavalier on a breakaway.
The Sabres played well tonight and when you play well you usually get some good bounces. Derek Roy got the best bounce of the night when his pass was deflected right back onto his stick for an easy shorthanded goal. With a four goal lead the Sabres went into a defensive shell and hung on for the victory.
There were some anxious moments late when the Lightning scored a power play goal to cut the lead to 4-2. There was no panic in the Sabres and Vanek iced the game with an empty net goal. Jason Pominville added a late goal for his second career hat trick.
This was the type of the game the Sabres needed to get back some confidence as they head down the stretch. The skeptics will chalk this game up as a game the Sabres "should have won" and they are right. This is a game the Sabres should have won but its a game against the type of team the Sabres have struggled against recently. Its another two points and an opportunity to gain some momentum.
- It was great to see the Sabres score a power play goal but they were still only 1-for-6 with the man advantage. Hopefully the goal will give them some momentum but they still need to be better.
- It was also great to see Rivet stick up for Butler but the NHL instigator rule put the Sabres in a tough position. They didn't allow it to become an issue but they played almost the entire first period with only four defensemen. They need to do something about the instigator rule because if more guys had to answer the bell after a big hit we might not see so many cheap hits in the league.
- It might have been the result of a tightly called game but both teams took way too many penalties in this game. This is another area the Sabres are going to have to clean up. They scored six times tonight but this team has been offensively challenged this season and they have to limit their shorthanded opportunities.
- Most teams are better when they have a lead but the Sabres have been one of the best. They are now 23-0-0 when they lead after two periods. This is a big difference from last year when no third period lead was a safe lead.