Buffalo (26-11-4) vs. Tampa Bay (16-15-10)
The Sabres began a three game homestand tonight, beginning with Tampa Bay. These teams have met once before this season, with Buffalo edging out the Lightning in overtime for the victory.
Buffalo struck the Lightning with a fast start to open the game. Lindy Ruff has been on the Sabres to try an play better in the first period. With a couple of off days, the Sabres players listened to Ruff, and showed up to play.
23 seconds into the game, Tyler Myers ripped a shot from the point past goaltender Mike Smith and the Sabres had a 1-0 lead. Only 25 seconds later, Buffalo had another goal. This time Jochen Hecht deflected it past the goaltender. Two goals on two shots in less than a minute to begin the game.
Again, only a minute later, Clarke MacArthur put home a rebound and Buffalo lead 3-0 only 2:11 into the game. With three goals in 1:48, Buffalo set a franchise record. Tampa Bay responded half way through the first period, ending the Sabres scoring spree.
It was Tampa Bay’s turn to put on the pressure. They scored two times in 2:22. Martin St.Louis scored his tenth of the season to put the Lightning on the board. Tampa Bay then scored shortly after, cutting the deficit to one. Victor Hedman earned his fourth of the season, and the Lightning were right back in the game. Buffalo outshot Tampa Bay 15-10 in the first period.
Buffalo would find their scoring again early in the second. Drew Stafford notched his tenth of his career, giving Buffalo a two goal lead for the second time of the night. Vincent Lecavalier struck back for the Lightning, making it a one goal game again. Jason Pominville was next to score as he earned his 11th of the season, allowing Buffalo to go up 5-3.
Neither team was able to score in the third, allowing the Sabres to earn their fifth consecutive win, the longest winning streak of the season. Buffalo improved their record to 17-0 when leading after two periods.
Both goalies were roughed up during the first two period. Ryan Miller finished the game by stopping 36 of 39 shots on the night. Mike Smith stopped 30 of 35. Tim Connolly extended his point streak to seven games with two assists on the night.