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Hedman returns home as Lightning squeeze past Buffalo

Wayne Masut | The Scrum Sports

Through most of their first 13 games, the Tampa Bay Lightning didn’t possess the look of a team that fancies itself as a Stanley Cup contender. In other words, their trip overseas to Stockholm, Sweden for the Global Series against the Buffalo Sabres probably couldn’t have come at a better time. A nice homecoming for Lightning defenseman and Sweden native Victor Hedman turned into an eventful contest against the Sabres.

Nikita Kucherov’s goal opens up a dominant first period

Despite Buffalo controlling play for the first couple of minutes, the game quickly shifted in the Lightning’s favor. Kucherov opened up the scoring at 3:19 in the first off a beautiful feed from Brayden Point on a 2-on-1.

From there, the Lightning continued to keep the pressure on the Sabres and their goaltender, Linus Ullmark. That continued pressure would be rewarded when Alex Killorn tipped in the puck past Ullmark on the power play 16:14 in the first period. As a whole, Tampa Bay had great puck movement in the period, and that would carry on into the 2nd period.

Lightning carry momentum over Buffalo into second period

The Lightning continued to dominate in the second period as they never really gave Buffalo a scoring chance, but Ullmark stood tall stopping any puck that came his way. Buffalo would eventually score 15:43 in the period on a tip-in from Sam Reinhart. The goal was initially called off for high-sticking, but after review, the call on the ice was reversed. Despite the goal, Tampa remained in control of the game for the rest of the period.

Physical period fuels both teams

The game got more interesting in the 3rd period as both teams stepped up the physical play. This was a game that already got chippy after Kucherov’s controversial hit on Vladimir Sobotka in the first period. Plenty of scoring chances were to be had by both teams, but neither capitalized on those chances. The game would get more chippy as Sabres defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen hit Lightning forward Alexander Volkov high with an elbow to the face. Volkov then got treatment for blood from his nose by one of the trainers as a result of the hit. Ondrej Palat then went after Jeff Skinner and both were sent off for rouging. Tampa then went on the power play, but could not take advantage and the game remained 2-1.

Tampa Bay takes control over Buffalo

Yanni Gourde would score minutes after giving the Lightning a 3-1 lead with 12:15 left in the third period with the helpers from Patrick Maroon and Cedric Paquette. Just when it looked like the game was going smoothly, the Sabres would cut the lead to one with another goal from Reinhart with 8:30 left in the 3rd period.

A tense final few moments

Both teams continued to generate scoring opportunities until the Sabres pulled Ullmark for an extra skater in the final minutes. Despite spending the majority of the last two minutes in Tampa Bay’s zone, Buffalo couldn’t solve Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy, allowing the Lightning to hold on for the 3-2 victory.

These two teams will face off in the rematch on Saturday afternoon in Stockholm at 1 pm.

 Three Stars of the Game

1st Star: Nikita Kucherov – Opened up the scoring in the first period

2nd Star: Sam Reinhart – Scored both goals for the Buffalo Sabres

3rd Star: Victor Hedman – Nabbed one assist and led the team with 25:47 time on ice

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