The Buffalo Sabres have finished their two-game road trip to Florida, ending up splitting the series 1-1. After beating the Florida Panthers on Friday, Buffalo took on the Lightning at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on Saturday. By the end of the night, Buffalo comes up on the losing end 3-2.
In the first period, Tampa Bay took a 1-0 lead on a Tyler Johnson powerplay goal. After a hooking penalty by Johan Larsson, Johnson cashed in on a Valterri Filppula rebound that Tyler Myers was unable to clear. Buffalo was outshot by the Lightning in the period 12-6, and Buffalo has now been outshot 178-93 in the first period all season.
In the second period, the Sabres came through to tie the game 1-1. A nice takeaway by Ville Leino helped create the opportunity, then Cody McCormick threw the puck in front and Brian Flynn buried the puck in the wide open net at the 12:58 mark of the period. Brian Flynn scored his second goal on the season, and continued to display his strong play in this series in Florida. In the period, Christian Ehrhoff played over ten minutes of ice time in the period. Buffalo was outshot, once again, 15-13 by Tampa Bay.
In the third period, Thomas Vanek gave Buffalo a 2-1 lead with 7:14 left in the third period. Zemgus Girgensons fed Marcus Foligno to begin a 2-on-1 rush with Vanek. Vanek then put home his fourth goal of the season on a pass from Foligno behind Lightning goaltender, Ben Bishop. However, the lead did not last long as Lightning captain, Martin St. Louis, tied the game at two with 5:51 left in the third period. 1:46 later, Onderj Palat cashes in off a rebound to give Tampa Bay the 3-2 lead. The Lightning would then hold on for the last four minutes of the game to preserve the 3-2 win. The shot total ended up in favor of the Lightning 39-22, with Buffalo only recording three shots in the third period. Buffalo is now 2-10-1 on the year.
After the game, Ron Rolston stated that Cody Hodgson and Drew Stafford did not play well, and he benched them for the later parts of the third period. “You’re best players have to play well, and they didn’t.” Hodgson ended up playing 12:10 of total ice time, while Stafford played 12:55 of total ice time.
In Ville Leino’s return from his cracked rib suffered in the season opener, Leino had the assist on Flynn’s goal and had 9:56 of total ice time. He was creating plenty of opportunities with the puck, and was playing well along the boards all night.
As for the teenagers, all played some important roles and key minutes for the Sabres tonight.
Mikhail Grigorenko was on the right wing tonight playing with Marcus Foligno and Steve Ott, and once again playing on the second unit of the powerplay. He played 13:52 of ice time and was a +1 on Vanek’s goal in third period.
Zemgus Girgensons registered an assist on Vanek’s goal, and played some time on the penalty kill. He ended up playing 13:39 of total ice time on a line with Johan Larsson and Tyler Ennis.
Rasmus Ristolainen ended up with three shots on 13:50 of ice time after scoring his first NHL goal on Friday. Ristolainen played on a defensive pairing with Henrik Tallinder tonight, who replaced an injured Mike Weber tonight.
Nikita Zadorov was once again impressive in his fourth NHL game in the NHL. Zadorov was a -1, but had two hits and played well on a pairing with Tyler Myers. Zadorov ended the game playing 17:25 tonight, and 2:41 of that ice time on the penalty kill.
Next up for the Buffalo Sabres is a tilt with the Dallas Stars on Monday. Lindy Ruff will make his return back to Buffalo for the first time since his firing in February. Opening faceoff is scheduled for Monday night at 7:05pm. The game will be aired on MSG and WGR 550.