The Buffalo Sabres took their four game win streak into Tampa to square off the against the Lightning on Tuesday evening and despite a strong showing from Ryan Miller the Sabres fell short, making the hill to the playoffs even steeper.
Sabres started off the game strong, using their speed to keep the Lightning back on their feet and generate offensive opportunities. Their strong start quickly fizzled as they proceeded to go 0/2 on the power play and Steven Stamkos managed to strike first blood after being left alone in the slot. No fault to Miller on Stamkos’ shot, when the sniper gets that much time alone in front he doesn’t miss and few goalies can stop his lethal shots.
Sabres ended the first period down by 1 but played a solid road period. They started the 2nd period on the power play but once again failed to capitalize on the advantage and then proceeded to take two consecutive penalties setting up a 5 on 3 for the Lightning. With weapons such as Stamkos and Martin St. Louis going down 2-men is like the kiss of death and St. Louis scores to put the Lightning up by 2.
The most exciting moment for the Sabres in the second was Thomas Vanek’s breakaway in which he fell and then proceeded to miss the net on his shot. Marcus Foligno and Keith Aulie dropped the mitts in a tilt that was dominated by Foligno. The 2nd period ended with the Sabres down by 2 and being out-shot 16-5 in the period and 18-9 through 2 periods.
Third period begins and the Sabres were unable to generate much offence and after a Christian Ehrhoff penalty the Sabres looked lost. A late power play for the Sabres materialized in nothing as the Sabres once again failed to generate anything from the man-advantage. With just over 3 minutes to play Jordan Leopold riffled a shot from the point that beat a screened Mathieu Garon, to give the Sabres life. But at the end of the day specialties were the Sabres downfall as they failed to score on any of their 4 power plays.
Ryan Miller was solid in the loss making 21 savings and keeping the game close for the majority of the game. Miller came up big making several point blank shots one just 7 minutes into the game. You can’t really fault the goalie for either of the Lightnings goals- one scored by the best sniper in the league and the other on a 5 on 3.
Tomas Vanek left the game with an upper-body injury and just hasn’t been able to stay healthy this year which has been tough for the Sabres to overcome. Vanek has had a hard time staying healthy this season which should cause some concern for the Sabres.
The Buffalo Sabres team we saw tonight was not the same team that beat the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday. If the New York Rangers hand on for their win over the Flyers the Sabres will fall 5 points back of the 8th spot.