There were several critical moments in this game that helped the Lightning come away with two points.
The Lightning had struggled with turnovers and puck management for a portion of Friday's game in Pittsburgh and those segments cost them the game. In this contest, the Lightning had similar difficulties for much of the second half of the first period. During that time frame, the Sabres recorded 10 unanswered shots and eventually scored a power play goal in the final seconds of the period. As was the case during those tough stretches in the Pittsburgh game, the Lightning weren't executing their passes well, so the Sabres had most of the puck possession. Also, Buffalo was able to repeatedly move the puck up the ice and attack the Lightning zone with speed. But Andrei Vasilevskiy, who did allow the power play goal to Ryan O'Reilly, made 14 other first period saves. Many of those were on Grade-A scoring chances.
The second period began similarly to how the first ended. The Sabres were applying pressure and the Lightning couldn't get the puck up ice cleanly. But about two and a half minutes into the frame, Matt Moulson committed an unforced icing infraction. Tyler Johnson won the ensuing faceoff and eventually redirected a Victor Hedman centering feed into the net. It was a huge play for the Lightning, not only because it tied the game, but also because it settled down their game.
At the time of the Johnson goal, the Sabres had 16 shots. They recorded just 16 more during the rest of regulation and overtime, as the Lightning leveled out the game's momentum. While the Sabres did generate some isolated chances after the Johnson goal, the Lightning delivered a solid performance the rest of the way and avoided any more dips in their play.
Other key moments occurred during the next two Lightning penalty kills, both of which were successful. One of those came in the second period about four minutes after Johnson's goal. The other began in the final minute of regulation. The Lightning have lost three overtime games this year by allowing a power play goal. But in this contest, they got through the end of regulation and the opening 1:16 of overtime unscathed.
Of course, the Lightning also had a chance to win the game in OT when they were awarded a power play, but credit the Sabres with an excellent PK effort to preserve the 1-1 tie.
The final crucial moment came in the shootout. Vasilevskiy made saves on Sam Reinhart and Jack Eichel, while Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov converted. The Kucherov goal appeared to go in off a missed stickhandling move, but no, it was by design. And it worked.
These two points were ones the Lightning desperately needed. And thanks to those key plays, they were able to get them.
Lightning Radio Big Moment of the Game:
Point's shootout goal.
Lightning Radio Three Stars of the Game:
- Andrei Vasilevskiy - Lightning. 31 saves.
- Robin Lehner - Sabres. 31 saves.
- Brayden Point - Lightning. Shootout winner