Sabres fall to Lightning in high-scoring affair


In the first game of their final road trip of the year, the Sabres traveled to Florida to take on the Atlantic Division-leading Tampa Bay Lightning. Buffalo took two of the first three meetings this year, but were facing a team fighting for positioning in the playoffs.

Although the game started with clear dominance by the Lightning, Buffalo responded with three consecutive goals in the second period for a 5-4 lead in the final period, but it was not enough as Tampa won a high-scoring 7-5 game at Amalie Arena.

The story of this game for the Sabres was the first goals for first-round draft picks Alex Nylander and Casey Mittlestadt.

After trailing 1-0 early in the period, Mittlestadt scored his first career goal while Buffalo was on the power play. He also had an assist on Pominville’s goal in the second, giving him five points (1 goal, 4 assists) this year. As a result, he’s currently averaging a point per game thus far in his career.

“It’s kind of a monkey off your back…I had time to pick my head up and [Baptiste] had a good screen…I pretty much just shot the puck in the opening”- Casey Mittelstadt

Following a successful stretch to the end of his second season in Rochester, which resulted in 17 points over his last 20 games, Nylander also got his first career goal. Also his second career point in six games played thus far for the Sabres, the first goals for both top Sabres prospects sent a positive message regarding the team’s future.

“It’s a dream come true, you dream about as a kid, it was a surreal moment…I saw Guhle at the point and I was thinking about getting to the net”- Alex Nylander

Due to lingering injuries to Linus Ullmark and Robin Lehner, Chad Johnson continued his run in net, earning the start. He struggled early, allowing a goal from Cirelli that followed a turnover from Reinhart just 30 seconds into the game. After the early goal, he went on to earn 27 saves on 33 shots faced, but it was a difficult night. 

In the game’s first 10 minutes, five goals were scored and it resulted in a 3-2 lead for the Lightning after the opening period

Cirelli, Nikita Kucherov and Yanni Gourde scored and help put Tampa on the board early and often. After a game with high-powered offense on both sides, Tampa led with a 34-32 edge in shots on goal and played a crucial role in their 7-5 victory.

After trailing 4-2 with just over a minute complete in the second period, goals from Jason Pominville, Jordan Nolan and Kyle Okposo helped push Buffalo out to a 5-4 lead, shifting the game’s balance the rest of the way for both teams.

However, back-to-back goals from Cirelli and Brayden Point in 47 seconds put the Lightning back in the lead early in the third.

Victor Hedman’s empty-netter with under two minutes to go sealed the deal and gave Tampa a much-needed two points in a battle for first place in the division and Eastern Conference.

Following this offensive output and still suffering the loss, the Sabres will finish their 2017-18 season Saturday night in Sunrise, Florida against the Panthers, set for a 7 p.m. puck drop at the BB&T Center.



Robert Janish, Jr.
One of the most memorable Sabres games I ever attended was the line brawl against the Senators, which Buffalo won in a shootout, 6-5. I can't wait for the day when playoff hockey returns to Buffalo. I graduated with a Masters in Sport Administration, and a Bachelor's in Political Science & Communication Studies from Canisius College.
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