The Tampa Bay Lightning returned to action Monday night in Buffalo. The Bolts, coming off a shootout loss Saturday against Colorado, entered Monday looking for their first regulation lead of the season. Tampa Bay had also not scored a first period goal coming into this matchup with the Sabres. Brian Elliot made his debut at goaltender for the Lightning. In the end, the result was another disappointment for the Bolts.
Sabres grab early lead, but Tampa Bay responds
It didn’t take long for the Lightning to be in unfortunate familiar territory: trailing in the first period. Victor Oloffson cashed in a rebound at 1:41 of the period to give Buffalo an early 1-0 lead. The Sabres lead lasted until late in the frame when finally, Tampa Bay broke their streak of not scoring a first period goal.
At 18:26 of the period, Alex Killorn fired home a rebound off a Ryan McDonagh shot to knot the score at 1-1. Until this point, the Bolts had not scored a first period goal through the first 5 games of the 2021 season.
As the game moved into the second period, the Lightning came out of the locker room with all the momentum. Tampa Bay had an early power play chance when Ross Colton was slashed by Colin Miller, but could not cash in with the man advantage. Overall, the Bolts registered 9 shots on goal in a row to start the period before Buffalo was able to get anything on Brian Elliot. On the other end of the ice, Buffalo net minder Dustin Tokarski held strong, eliminating any possible scoring chance the Lightning generated.
With less than a minute remaining in the period, the Sabres broke the 1-1 tie. Drake Caggiula took control and broke free on a mini breakaway, beating Brian Elliott with just 37 seconds left in the period. Though Tampa Bay dominated the period with an 1–3 shot advantage, the Sabres lead would only increase from here.
Hinostroza pads lead and Sabres find empty net twice
About 4 minutes into the third period, Vinnie Hinostroza extended the Buffalo lead to 2 goals. As the Sabres gained entry into the Lightning zone, Erik Cernak lost a puck battle, resulting in a turnover onto Hinostroza’s stick. Hinostroza fired a quick wrist shot past Elliott, giving Buffalo a 3-1 advantage.
The score remained 3-1 as the Sabres defense and Dustin Tokarski held strong against all Lightning chances. The Bolts pressured and pushed throughout the course of the period, but could not solve Tokarski. Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper opted to pull Elliott for the 6th attacker with over 5 minutes left in the period. Buffalo immediately took advantage.
On the ensuing face-off in the Buffalo zone, the Sabres controlled the puck. Robert Hagg fired from the opposite corner of the ice at the empty net 200 feet away to extend the lead to 4-1.
The Lightning had a brief period of pressure following that goal, again with the 6th attacker on the ice. But Tokarski continued to deny the chances, and Victor Olofsson added an empty net goal of his own to clinch a 5-1 final score in favor of the Sabres.
The Lightning visit the Penguins in Pittsburgh tomorrow night. The Bolts look to avenge the 6-2 opening night loss to the Pens.
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