The Sabres were on their best streak of the season, albeit a short one. Buffalo came in with two straight wins, but the Tampa Bay Lightning showed up and left with a 4-1 victory on Thursday night.
Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov and Tyler Johnson stepped up with first period goals, and it was more than enough. Andrei Vasilevskly received the start in goal and ended up as the first star of the game, stopping 30 of 31 shots.
At the other end, head coach Dan Bylsma gave goaltender Linus Ullmark a third consecutive start because of the recent strong play. That didn’t go as planned as the Sabres pulled Ullmark after the first period.
“We definitely shot ourselves in the foot tonight with the way we came out in the first period. It’s frustrating because when we did decide to play, it was a different game.” – Josh Gorges
Ullmark stopped eight of 11 shots and took his first career loss. Chad Johnson cooled off the Lightning, but was only called to stop 10 shots, which he did. The other Lightning goal was an empty-netter, where Victor Hedman scored his first of the season.
“We gave a good team too many easy opportunities to score,” Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said. “They took heavily advantage of it. Some checking assignments and missed plays, and Stamkos has got a one-timer and Johnson’s got a look in the slot. We hung our goalie out to dry with those opportunities.”
After putting up 21 shots in the second period, the Sabres managed just two in the final period of play. Tampa Bay only had three in the last 20 minutes.
Jack Eichel scored the lone goal for the Sabres in the second period. Mike Weber picked up his first assist of the season.
The Lightning have won the last seven games against Buffalo and will meet one more time this season, next Tuesday in Tampa Bay.
“We’re backtracking early after they score three in the first and that’s it. I think that that’s one of the better teams we’ve played in terms of coming at you with speed, supporting each other, getting pucks in, creating a lot of offense, [being] tough to play against and that’s the team we want to be.” – Jack Eichel
The Sabres will remain home to take on the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday. Puck drop is scheduled for 1 p.m.