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Elliott and Kucherov shine in close win over Buffalo

Brian Elliott continued his dominance over the Sabres while Nikita Kucherov nets a 4-point night as Tampa edges Buffalo 5-3 at home. Along with the 4-point night Kucherov also extended his points streak to 10 games. Rookie Nick Perbi scored his first career goal in a big way to help propel the Lightning past the Sabres.

 

Lightning score first

Early on Tampa maintained strong puck possession to keep Buffalo’s defense on their toes. Afterwards, teams would exchange some quality scoring chances but none would result in a goal. Around 7 minutes in the period Tampa opened up the scoring. On a play that Brandon Hagel should have shot the puck he elected to pass instead to Victor Hedman. Hedman then fed the puck to Nick Paul who fired it past Eric Comrie for the 1-0 lead. Then, Buffalo nearly answers back after a Lightning turnover that was over passed by the Sabres. Buffalo continued to fight hard for an equalizer that Elliott answered well. Next, Tampa nearly added to the lead, but Comire shut down the Bolts offense. For the early part of the first period both teams struggled to get the puck on net, and as the period went on the shots on net piled up.

Buffalo comes alive

Elliott would have to stay on his toes after Sabres’ first line applied the pressure on net. Following, Nikita Kucherov was called for slashing giving Buffalo the first power play of the night. Thanks to Elliott and a couple of blocked shots the penalty was killed off. Indeed, Buffalo’s constant pressure paid off as Zemgus Girgensons tied up the game with a wrist shot late in the period. Seemed like that penalty kill took a toll on Tampa which Buffalo took full advantage of. Hedman did leave the ice after the Sabres power play but did return minutes later. Period would end with the game tied 1-1.

Kucherov extends point streak

To start off, Lightning received an early power play after Tage Thompson is called for tripping. Unfortunately, as the Bolts power play expired Alex Killorn was called for hooking and Tampa now went on the penalty kill. Just like Buffalo However, Tampa would again go on the power play after Dylan Cozens is called for tripping. Tampa would captivate on the man advantage after Bryaden Point tipped in the shot from Steven Stamkos. As a result, Lightning took a 2-1 lead while Kucherov extended his points streak to 10 games. Penalties continued to bundle up as the period went on.

Bundle of penalties takes over game flow

Buffalo yet again applied pressure on offense hoping to tie the game once again. Again, Buffalo went on the power play for the third time in the period. This time Pat Maroon was called for unsportsmanlike conduct after arguing with one of the officials. Elliott repeatedly saved shots from Jeff Skinner however Buffalo still managed to tie the game on the man advantage. Casey Mittelstadt tipped in a pass from Owen Power to tie the game 2-2. Despite the score both goalies were stealing the show preventing the game from being a hi-scoring affair. Remainder of the period saw no goals scored and no more penalties committed either.

Pendulum effect

New period same game as Comrie continued to make dazzling saves. Zone time was mostly in Buffalo’s end of the ice as Tampa rushed early in the third. Skinner continued to try to score on Elliott and thanks to a Lightning turnover he would do just that. Due to the turnover Skinner was left all alone easily giving the Sabres a 3-2 lead. Bolts defense fell apart in the early stages of the period which allowed Buffalo to take command of the game. Meanwhile, Tampa nullified the momentum Buffalo created tying up the game in the process. Brandon Hagel whiffed on a shot but made up for it on the follow-up to tie the game 3-3.

Elliott stands tall and Perbix scores his first

After the Hagel goal the game flow would go quiet for a bit. Quiet time did not last long as both teams resumed applying the pressure. Skinner looked to score on a breakaway but was denied again by Elliott. On the return Tampa took the lead thanks to their rookie defender. Nick Perbix got the Amalie crowd roaring by giving the Bolts a 4-3 lead with a few minutes left in the period. The goal ended up being the game-winner and Perbix’s first career goal. All in all, Kucherov would net an empty net goal to cap off a 4-point night as the Lightning win 5-3. The win marked Elliott’s 19th career victory over the Sabres.

Three stars of the game

First Star: Nick Perbix – First career goal (Was game-winning goal)

Second Star: Brandon Hagel – 1 goal, 2 assists

Third Star: Nikita Kucherov – 1 goal, 3 assists

 

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