In the first of two consecutive afternoon games, the Sabres took on Steven Stamkos and the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Sabres got the crowd into the game early by putting on a heavy fore-check and controlling the play. Tampa Bay held there own as well as it a good defensive period by both teams.
The highlight of the period came a little over the halfway point when Colaiacovo was cross checked in front of the net which led to a Buffalo Power play. Even though Buffalo didn’t score on the power play, they moved the puck very well and gained momentum. Buffalo seemed to sustain this momentum ending the period with a strong minute on the penalty kill.
Tampa Bay put on the pressure early in the second period and had some nice scoring opportunities on the power play. Chad Johnson showed some poise in net as he did not allow them to score on their first two power play chances.
Tampa would finally break open the scoring at the 8:14 marker. A point shot by Erik Kondra made it through a screen created by Filppula in front of Johnson making it 1-0 Lightning.
Buffalo showed some fight later in the period as Nicolas Delauriers was positioned well in front of the net and put one past Ben Bishop. Delauriers along with Reinhart and Legwand outworked Tampa low in the zone on that shift and it paid off for them tying the game 1-1.
Buffalo got caught with a too many men on the ice penalty with a little over two minutes remaining in the second period. Tampa moved the puck well on the the power play and Kucherov scored just as time was expiring in the penalty. The score would remain 2-1 in favor of Tampa to end the period.
Buffalo started the third period strong and seemed to hold the momentum throughout the first half of the period. Steven Stamkos put an end to the sabres momentum as he scored his first of the year. Shortly after, Jason Garrison took a shot from the point which was tipped by JT Brown to put the Lightning ahead 4-1.
The Sabres showed compete to end the game as they had all afternoon. However, the Lightning showed why they are the eastern conference champions by closing out the game 4-1.
Ennis stated after the game that he believes this team has improved and indicated that they need to continue to build chemistry.
“The skill is there. the talent is there. We just have to put it together.”
The Sabres will find themselves in another tough battle on Monday when they take on Columbus at 3 p.m.