Score: Lightning 6 | Sabres 5
Shots: BUF 37 | TB 25
Buffalo Sabres Goals: Tage Thompson (13), Jack Quinn (4), Tyson Jost (1), Dylan Cozens (6), Jeff Skinner (10)
Tampa Bay Lightning Goals: Brayden Point (9-PP, 10-PP), Corey Perry (3), Steven Stamkos (11, 12-OTW), Brandon Hagel (7-PP)
Minus 1 - First to Trail
Almost halfway through the first period, Tampa Bay struck first following a neat pass up the middle to Brayden Point who, as Rick Jeanneret would say, “dipsy-doodled” around defenders Ilya Lyubushkin and Mattias Samuelsson to net the first goal of the game. The Sabres found themselves down by a goal in the blink of an eye as Point tallied his fourth powerplay goal thus far this year, with an assist from winger Nikita Kucherov who has excelled with 32 points already on the season.
While the remainder of the opening period was a hard-fought one by the home team, Buffalo’s pain continued when the Lightning widened their lead to two goals thanks to Corey Perry.
Plus 1 - Mess Around and Find Out
Through Buffalo’s first few months of the season, Tage Thompson is on pace for 102(!) points and, if that comes to fruition, would become just the sixth Sabres skater to record 100 or more points in a single season. With tonight’s electric goal (see below), he now has 24 points in his last 15 games, 13 of which have been goals. Thompson, who has not scored against the Lightning since 2019, definitely made his presence felt late in the first period. With his 67 total goals for the Sabres, he is in good company: tied with Jerry Korab, Stu Barnes, and Brad May at 53rd on the all-time list.
Following Tommer’s goal was another brilliant one - this time by Jack Quinn as he found the back of the net in the final seconds of the period to tie up the game going into the first intermission. The rookie has five goals in the last five games - the first time he has accomplished this in his career. He and his linemates (JJ Peterka and Dylan Cozens) are becoming more noticeable offensively as they continue to gel with each other more and more each game.
Thompson’s and Quinn’s goals came just 59 seconds apart.
Plus 2 - Jost’s First
Buffalo really battled after being down two goals at the start of the game. Halfway through the second period, they found themselves with their first lead of the game following Tyson Jost’s first goal of the season and first in a Sabres jersey. Jost capitalized on a rebound opportunity created by linemate Kyle Okposo’s initial shot and, like Thompson, this was Jost’s first goal scored against the Lightning since 2019.
This was a fun one to watch following Friday’s disappointing game against the Devils and, if they would have won, arguably one of the Sabres’ best this season. In an all-around awesome team effort, the Sabres played a very talented team in Tampa Bay tonight and, even though the game did not start off how they may have hoped, the Sabres never faltered in their effort. Not only did they bounce back from a two-goal deficit, they tied it up, trailed again, and regained the lead. Cozens and Jeff Skinner also contributed top notch goals that made you want to “dance with somebody.”
In the final minutes of regulation, there was an interesting scrum in front of the net of Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen following a Tampa Bay player toppling over him. Did anyone have flashbacks of Milan Lucic charging Ryan Miller back in the day? Because I certainly did. However, this time the goaltender’s teammates actually did something about it (thank you Rasmus Dahlin!).
Overall, despite an impressive effort by the home team, the Sabres gave the Lightning far too many chances - especially with special teams - and it came back to bite them in the end. Steven Stamkos - who had three points tonight - scored the game winner in overtime following a bogus delay-of-game penalty taken by Owen Power. It was a bit of a heartbreaker, but hopefully the Sabres can take what they did right offensively tonight and carry into their next game on Wednesday against the Red Wings. Puck drop is at 7:00 PM.
Tonight’s Three Stars:
1. Steven Stamkos (2G, 1A)
2. Nikita Kucherov (3A)
3. Tage Thompson (1G, 1A)