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Matinee in Snowy Buffalo Can’t Cool Down Bolts

After sweeping their four-game homestand, the Tampa Bay Lightning took their show on the road. They began a three-game road trip with a Saturday matinee in snowy Buffalo. It was the Bolts’ second trip to Buffalo this season. Their first trip was game number four on the season for the Lightning and they lost it 3-2 in overtime. Road games have been a challenge for the Bolts this year. They came into today with an 8-12-2 road record. But the boys certainly seemed to be jelling as of late. Could they keep their recent momentum as they hit the road?

The season has been disappointing for the Buffalo Sabres thus far. A top offensive team last season, many were expecting big things from the Sabres this year. But, so far, the offense has struggled compared to last year, particularly on the power play. They came into today on a two-game win streak, hoping to get themselves back into the playoff hunt.

Off to an Early Start

This game had an early start and our Lightning got off to an early start! The Sabres went with Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen in net. Pekka Luukkonen was coming off back-to-back shutouts. But that shutout streak would not last long into this one. The Bolts scored on the first shot of the game at 6:14 as Nick Paul drilled a pass from Brandon Hagel past the Buffalo netminder to put the Lightning up 1-0.

Seconds later, the Bolts took a penalty. Last season, the Sabres’ power play ranked in the top ten in the league. But this season, they are ranked 27th on the man advantage at just above 14 percent. Their power play woes continued on this one. Just over 30 seconds into it, Tyler Motte stole the puck in his own zone and skated in on a breakaway. His shot beat Pekka Luukkonen to put the Lightning up 2-0.

Slower Second

Second periods have been challenging for these teams this season. They both came into today with a minus three goal differential in the middle frame. The Bolts had some chances, including on two power plays, but couldn’t quite connect for a good scoring opportunity.

Then, with around six minutes to go in the period, the Lightning had a bit of trouble in their own zone. They lost coverage and Buffalo took advantage. Dylan Cozens scored at 13:52 to pull the Sabres within a shot of tying this one up.

One Period to Go

The Lightning were clinging to the slimmest of leads to start the period. And Buffalo came out firing. The Sabres had some opportunities and controlled play for most of the period.

Although the Bolts gave the Sabres a lot of possession time, they definitely limited the high-danger chances. Jonas Johansson was stellar in net, particularly in the third period (including on an early breakaway) when Buffalo was desperate to tie the game.

The Lightning looked strong in the dying moments of this one to close it out. They kept the puck out of their end for a couple of shifts, not allowing Buffalo to pull Pekka Luukkonen for the extra attacker until under the two-minute mark. Once the Sabre net was empty, Calvin deHaan put the final touch on this game with his third goal of the season.

Overall, Buffalo outshot Tampa Bay 15-2 in the final frame. But Jonas Johansson stood tall against the team that originally drafted him to seal a 3-1 victory and extend the Lightning winning streak to five games.

3 Stars

1- Jonas Johansson- came up huge in stopping 26 of 27 shots

2- Tyler Motte- game-winning goal shorthanded

3- Nick Paul- 1 goal, 1 assist

Up Next

The Lightning road show gets right back at it tomorrow night as Tampa Bay sports head into Detroit! The Bolts face off against the Red Wings at 7pm (game was originally scheduled for 5pm but delayed to allow time for our football team to face off against theirs at 3pm).





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