Buffalo Sabres defeat the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-1

 

Buffalo Sabres defeat the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-1

After some lackluster starts in recent games the Buffalo Sabres came out firing tonight in the first period against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Buffalo was all over Tampa in the first five minutes of the period and with the exception of one or two shifts midway through the period they dominated the entire period and out-shot the Lightning 14-3. Buffalo got the first goal of the game with just 19 seconds remaining in the first period while Darryl Sydor was in the penalty box for the Lightning after being called for tripping. Tim Connolly fed the puck back to Brian Campbell at the left point and Campbell one-timed a shot towards the net. Jochen Hecht was screening Tampa goalie Sean Burke and managed to deflect the puck past him. Tampa Bay started to get their legs in the second period and had some excellent scoring chances in the first seven minutes of the period but Ryan Miller was solid in net for Buffalo. Buffalo regained the momentum at the 10:10 mark with another power play goal. Jochen Hecht worked the puck down low in the Tampa zone and fed a cross-ice pass to Chris Drury who was alone at the left face off circle. Drury roofed the puck high into the short side to put Buffalo ahead 2-0. Buffalo was able to score both of their power play goals because Tampa was not aggressive on the penalty kill. They sat back and let the Sabres cycle the puck and control play in the offensive zone. In Buffalo’s last game, the Florida Panthers attacked on the penalty kill and held the Sabres scoreless on seven power play chances. Tampa Bay must not watch a lot of game film or they would have seen that. Tampa did get back in the game on a fluky goal at the 12:23 mark of the second period. There was a bit of a scrum in front of the Buffalo net and a bouncing puck was knocked out of the air past Miller by Martin St. Louis. Miller could have used some more help in front of him, especially from Tim Connolly, who failed to tie up his man. Their goal really brought Tampa to life and they continued to stay aggressive and press the attack against Buffalo. This caused the Sabres to take two penalties with less than five minutes left in the period (Connolly for holding and Teppo Numminen for tripping). However, the Sabres killed off the nearly four straight minutes of penalties to keep their 2-1 lead heading into the third period. Early in the third period Henrik Tallinder gave the Sabres a two goal cushion when he scored on an odd man rush just 2:15 into the period. Paul Gaustad started the rush in the Sabres zone and carried the puck up the right boards into Tampa territory. He passed it to Adam Mair and Mair found Tallinder crashing towards the net to the right of Burke. Tallinder tipped the pass high into the top right corner of the net. The goal was Tallinder’s fourth in the last six games and fifth of the season. Prior to this season Tallinder had only scored four goals in 120 games. Ryan Miller had to make two heads-up plays on back-to-back Sabres power plays mid-way through the third period. As each power play expired the penalized Lightning player had a full or partial breakaway that Miller stopped. Both Pavel Kubina and then Vaclav Prospal stepped out of the box just as the puck was being cleared into the neutral zone. Miller continues to play well against breakaways and turned both chances aside. Buffalo could have blown the game wide open in the third but they failed to capitalize on the three Tampa penalties. Luckily for Buffalo, Tampa proved inept on the power play and ended the night 0-4 with the man advantage, including an opportunity at the 17:21 mark of the third period. Buffalo was 2-7 on the power play for the night. Quick Notes:
  • According to Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff, Chris Drury suffered a “light groin strain” that is “day to day” and “not too serious”.
  • Ryan Miller is 5-1 since returning from his broken thumb injury and has a 1.48 Goals Against Average and .944 Save Percentage in those six games.
  • Buffalo is 27-12-3 with 56 points at the official halfway point of their season (having played their 41st game tonight). The Sabres are currently three points behind the Ottawa Senators for first place in the Northeast Division.
  • Buffalo is off until Saturday night when they face the New Jersey Devils at HSBC Arena in Buffalo.

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