On Tuesday in Buffalo, the Sabres competed extremely hard and defended well against the Lightning. They blocked 22 shots and yielded just one goal to the Bolts, the highest scoring team in the NHL. The Lightning didn’t generate a lot of chances in the first and third periods on Tuesday. But in the second, the Lightning carried most of the play, firing 16 shots on Jhonas Enroth. Tonight, they wanted to replicate their second period performance throughout the game.
The first period of this rematch, however, was not the Lightning’s crispest. They scored early, when Radko Gudas’ point shot skipped off the ice past Enroth. But for several minutes after the goal, the Sabres pushed back. During this stretch, the Lightning’s puck management was loose – and the Sabres enjoyed some extended shifts in the offensive zone. Also, Buffalo was effective at moving the puck up the ice, preventing the Lightning from getting in on the forecheck. Still, the Bolts held the Sabres to just five shots and took their 1-0 lead into the locker room after 20 minutes.
In the second, the Lightning completely dominated play. Their forecheck began forcing turnovers in the Buffalo zone – and, with the long change in the period, the Sabres struggled to get players off the ice. In one such instance, with Buffalo d-men Tyson Strachan and Mike Weber stuck on the ice, Steven Stamkos checked Strachan behind the net, forcing a steal. Eventually, Stamkos received a pass from Ryan Callahan at the side of the net and scored to extend the Tampa Bay lead. Just over a minute later, Jonathan Drouin faked a shot from the left circle, which opened up a passing lane. He slid the puck to Brendan Morrow at the far post and Morrow buried the shot, making it 3-0. Those two quick goals buoyed the Lightning – and seemed the deflate the Sabres. Most of the rest of the period was played in the Buffalo zone, with the Lightning in possession of the puck. Jason Garrison added a fourth goal at 13:40. The Sabres didn’t even register their first shot of the period until there were under four minutes left in the frame.
The Bolts managed the game well in the third, preventing the Sabres from getting any dangerous looks. As is sometimes the case in a lopsided game, it became chippy in the third. After a couple of fights and a handful of misconducts, the Lightning closed out the game with three late power plays. With only 65 seconds left, Brett Connolly finished the scoring during a lengthy five-on-three.
For the final 40 minutes, the Bolts put on a puck possession clinic. That helped them hold Buffalo to just 13 shots for the game. And was one reason why they recorded 35 shots. Most importantly, though, they found ways to get pucks past Enroth, who entered the game as one of the hottest goalies in the league.
Lightning Radio Big Moment of the Game (as selected by Phil Esposito):
Morrow’s second period goal, which extended the Lightning lead to 3-0.
Lightning Radio Three Stars of the Game (as selected by Phil Esposito):
1.Steven Stamkos – Lightning. Goal and two assists.
2.Andrej Sustr – Lightning. Two assists, tying a career-best.
3.Radko Gudas – Lightning. Goal. Team-high five shots.