The Tampa Bay Lightning looked to continue their winning ways in a battle against the Buffalo Sabres at home on Monday night. Following a 2-0 sweep in the 2019 Global Series in Sweden, the Lightning and Sabres met for the one and only matchup at Amalie Arena this season. The Bolts were hoping to continue their recent success against Buffalo. Tampa Bay entered Monday’s game 10-1-1 against the Sabres since the start of the 2014-2015 season. The Lightning also looked to extend their winning streak to three after victories over the Chicago Blackhawks and Anaheim Ducks.
Kucherov strikes within seconds
It didn’t take long for the Lightning to get the offense going. Just 13 seconds into the game, Nikita Kucherov fired a wrist shot through traffic to put the Bolts up 1-0. The goal was the third fastest to ever start a game in Lightning franchise history. Dino Ciccarelli in 1997 and Ruslan Fedotenko in 2006 are currently tied for the fastest at 11 second each. Cory Sarich scored in 12 seconds in 2002. In addition, Ondrej Palat picked up the assist on Kucherov’s goal giving him 300 career points. Palat becomes just the 10th ever Lightning player to record 300 career points.
— Bolts 💜 (@TBLightning) November 26, 2019
Buffalo did not lie down after falling behind early. Just 3:27 later, the Sabres got on the board when Sam Reinhart corralled a rebounded shot by Victor Olofsson and buried the puck through the 5 hole.
Tampa Bay would have a few more solid scoring chances in the game’s opening frame. During a 2 on 1 opportunity with Palat, Kucherov opted to take the shot in lieu of a pass and Carter Hutton came up with a great save. Then, with 3:58 to go in the period, Yanni Gourde attempted a wrap around shot with Hutton caught out of position and the opposite side of the net wide open. Hutton was called for a trip, and the Bolts were awarded the game’s first powerplay.
The best scoring chance on the Tampa Bay powerplay went to Buffalo. A Lightning neutral-zone turnover resulted in a shorthanded breakaway chance for Zemgus Girgensons. Vasilevskiy came up with a huge save to keep the score tied, where it remained into the first intermission.
Sabres take lead early, Bolts battle back in second period
Things got going quickly for Buffalo in the second period. A neutral zone steal of Brydon Coburn resulted in an unassisted goal on a breakaway by Jimmy Vesey. Shortly after, the Lightning found themselves on their heels as Nikita Kucherov was sent to the penalty box for a high sticking minor. The Sabres were unable to increase their lead on the power play thanks to a few Vezina caliber saves from Andrei Vasilevskiy. Throughout the first two periods, as has been the case for much of this season, Tampa Bay leaned heavily on their netminder to keep the game from getting out of hand.
Shortly after the successful penalty kill, it was the Lightning’s turn to skate with a man advantage. A high sticking penalty sent Johan Larsson to the box at 5:34. The Lightning cashed in to tie the game at 2 when Mikhail Sergachev fired a long range shot past Carter Hutton from just inside the blue line. Just over 2 minutes later, Yanni Gourde put the Lightning ahead by deflecting a Ryan McDonagh slapshot into the net.
The Lightning killed two more power plays in the period and held onto a 3-2 lead heading into the game’s final frame.
Penalty kill comes up big to seal the win
Tampa Bay started the third period on the power play. At the 20:00 mark of the second, Johan Larsson was called for holding. However, the Lightning were not able to get anything going with the man advantage. Another chance came when Marco Scandella was called for hooking at 6:13 but again the Bolts just couldn’t seem to establish a zone presence with the extra man. The power play ended when the Lightning committed a penalty of their own. With seven seconds left on the call to Scandella, Kevin Shattenkirk committed a tripping minor. After a brief 4 on 4, Cedric Paquette broke free on a breakaway for Tampa Bay’s first shorthanded goal of the season.
49 seconds later, on the same penalty kill, Lightning struck once more. A mishandled Sabres pass in the Lightning zone resulted in the puck careening out of the zone and down the ice. Mathieu Joseph played the puck at center ice and skated 2 on 1 with Ondrej Palat into the Buffalo zone. A perfectly timed pass found the stick of Palat who fired in Tampa Bay’s 5th goal of the game.
The Bolts found the net one more time in the third period. At 10:24, Anthony Cirelli appeared to have scored goal number 6 for Tampa Bay. However, video reviewed negated the goal due to goaltender interference. When the clock hit zero, the Tampa Bay Lightning were victorious by a 5-2 final score.
Shots on goal: Buffalo – 30, Tampa Bay – 29
Power Play: Buffalo – 0/4, Tampa Bay – 1/4
Three stars of the game
- Ondrej Palat – 3 Points (1 G, 2 A)
- Andrei Vasilevskiy (28 saves)
- Ryan McDonagh (2 assists)
Next up for the Bolts
The Lightning welcome the defending Stanley Cup Champion St. Louis Blues to Amalie Arena Wednesday night, 11/27. The two teams squared off last Tuesday in St. Louis with the Blues winning, 3-1. Check out our recap of that contest here.
Check out Coach Cooper’s press conference and locker room reactions to tonight’s game at our official Youtube channel.
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