In this game, Steven Stamkos netted his 40th goal of the season, and Nikita Kucherov recorded his 99th assist. Those were the only two highlights in what was a rather disappointing and uninspired performance from the Lightning. To make matters worse, Luke Glendening suffered an injury during the second period and did not return. He already has been ruled out of Wednesday’s regular-season finale.

In leading up to Game One of the playoffs, which will begin this weekend, the Lightning wanted to cleanly execute the details of their game. That didn’t happen against the Sabres. The Lightning were sloppy with their puck play — especially in the defensive zone — and had coverage miscues. 

The Sabres came out of the gates strongly and were rewarded with an early rebound goal from Dylan Cozens. The Lightning eventually tied the score at 2:27 of the second period with the Stamkos tally (Kucherov assisting). But soon after, the Lightning committed an unforced turnover while on a power play and surrendered a shorthanded goal to Cozens. A coverage breakdown yielded Jordan Greenway’s goal late in the middle stanza. Then, after Erik Cernak pulled the Lightning to within a goal at 9:39 of the third, they made another costly mistake on the very next shift. A d-zone turnover led to a two-on-one down low — Zach Benson finished his chance at 9:54.

The Lightning know they’ll need to play better once the playoffs begin this weekend. They’ll look to build their game up when they wrap up the regular season on Wednesday against Toronto.

Lightning Radio Three Stars of the Game (as selected by Phil Esposito):

  1. Dylan Cozens — Sabres. Two goals.
  2. Eric Comrie — Sabres. 31 saves.
  3. Steven Stamkos — Lightning. Goal.