This one may not have been pretty for the Lightning. But after losing two in a row for the first time this season, they'll gladly take the victory. The Sabres, like many teams the Lightning have seen recently, played a tight-checking game against the Bolts. As a result, there wasn't much open ice for the Lightning. In fact, after the first period, the Sabres had the majority of the puck possession and shots. But the Lightning offset that with a combination of timely offensive, solid team defense and excellent goaltending.
In terms of controlling the puck and dictating play, the first period was the Lightning's strongest. Their forecheck created some turnovers in the Buffalo end and their good neutral zone positioning prevented the Sabres from easily moving the puck up ice. But, as mentioned earlier, the Sabres played a committed, defensive game and the Lightning had a difficult time generating lots of scoring chances. But one of the chances they did get resulted in the game's first goal. During a power play, Mikhail Sergachev one-timed a shot from the slot past Robin Lehner.
The first half of the second period was a choppy one for the Lightning. The Sabres greatly increased their puck possession. They were especially dangerous during their first power play chance, firing five shots on goal. In five-on-five play, the Lightning had trouble clearing their zone and took a number of icing infractions. But that possession advantage didn't yield a goal for the Sabres. Instead, the Lightning made it 2-0 when Dan Girardi's right point shot deflected in the Buffalo net off Sabres defenseman Marco Scandella. The Girardi goal settled down the Lightning's game and they had a much stronger second half of the period.
The third period was the frame in which the Sabres accumulated their best looks. Many of those came in the closing minutes. But Andrei Vasilevskiy made 13 more stops to finish the game with a 34-save shutout. And, as a whole, the Lightning defended well without the puck and kept Buffalo from amassing a high quantity of scoring chances.
As I mentioned, the Lightning will happily bank the two points from this game. But they'll look play a crisper overall game on Wednesday in Boston against the Bruins.
Lightning Radio Big Moment of the Game:
Lightning Radio Three Stars of the Game:
- Andrei Vasilevskiy - Lightning. 34-save shutout.
- Mikhail Sergachev - Lightning. PPG.
- Victor Hedman - Lightning. 26:19 TOI.