The Tampa Bay Lightning opened up the final homestand of the regular season with a 4-2 loss to the Buffalo Sabres Monday night at AMALIE Arena.

The Bolts fell behind early when Dylan Cozens opened the scoring for Buffalo just 1:36 into the first period. After a shot from Jack Quinn in the slot went off the post to the right of Andrei Vasilevskiy, Cozens was right there to jump on the rebound and give the Sabres the early lead with his 17th goal of the season.

Tampa Bay responded and tied the game 2:27 into the second period when Steven Stamkos netted his 40th goal of the season.

Skating out from behind his own net, Rasmus Dahlin had the puck stolen by Nikita Kucherov, who quickly fed Stamkos before the Lightning captain wired a shot off the far post and past Eric Comrie to make it 1-1 with Kucherov picking up his 99th assist of the season.

With Kucherov looking for a historic 100th assist, the Bolts went to the power play only 2:18 after Stamkos tied the game at one. But it was Buffalo’s special teams that would take advantage with Cozens netting his second goal of the night, this one shorthanded, to give the Sabres a 2-1 lead with 14:52 remaining in the middle frame.

As Tampa Bay searched for the game-tying goal, another Buffalo forward was left unmarked in front of the net when Jordan Greenway scored on a rebound to the right of Vasilevskiy to put the Sabres up 3-1 heading into the third period.

Erik Cernak got the Lightning back within one when he took a pass from Nick Paul and hammered a one-timer from the point that made its way through traffic and beat Comrie to make it a 3-2 game with 10:21 remaining in regulation.

But Buffalo had an immediate response with Zach Benson positioning himself at the far post and finishing off a back door pass from Quinn just 15 seconds after Cernak made it a one-goal game.

Benson’s goal would be the final tally of the contest as the Sabres wrapped up their season with a victory. The Bolts will have an opportunity to do the same when they take on the Toronto Maple Leafs in the regular season finale Wednesday night at AMALIE Arena. Puck drop is set for 7 p.m. ET. 

Luke Glendening left the game with an injury in the second period and was unable to return. Head coach Jon Cooper did not have an update after the game, other than the fact that he will not play Wednesday night.

Bolts by the Numbers

Steven Stamkos scored the Lightning’s first goal of the game to record his seventh career 40-goal season, the most in Lightning franchise history and tied for the 11th-most in NHL history. Alex Ovechkin is the only active skater with more 40-goal campaigns (13). Stamkos has found the back of the net in seven of his last 10 contests (11-3—14) and is up to 79 points on the season (40-39—79).

Nikita Kucherov picked up the lone assist on the Stamkos goal, his 61st primary helper this season. Kucherov has now recorded 99 assists this season and has a chance to become just the fifth player in NHL history to collect 100 helpers in a single season when the Bolts battle the Leafs Wednesday night at AMALIE Arena. Kucherov has now recorded 142 points this season (43-99—142), the most in Lightning franchise history, and has picked up 19 points over his last 10 contests (2-17—19).

Erik Cernak netted his second goal of the year to push his season point total to 13 (2-11—13).

Nick Paul picked up the lone assist on the Cernak goal and has now recorded a career-high 44 points this season (23-21—44).

Bolts Quotes

Steven Stamkos: “When you go into the playoffs, it's a different season. We've got no choice but to be better. We're not sitting here saying, 'Oh my God, the world's ending.' We know what's at stake after the next game. It's just got to be much better. Of course, you want to do the things that you're going to be doing in the playoffs. Let's start doing them now. I don't know why all of a sudden we're not doing them. Is it just a mental thing? Probably. Let's at least try to do the things much better next game so we can feel better about ourselves.”

Jon Cooper: “I think at times tonight it looked like we just wanted to get out of the game instead of finishing it through. We were fine. The shorthanded goal probably popped our bubble a little bit. We got that chance on the PK on the 2-on-1. Goalie makes a nice save. After that, we were just flat. It looked more like we were just trying to get the game over with and make sure we didn't lose anybody else.”

Krenner’s Three Stars

  1. Dylan Cozens
  2. Jordan Greenway
  3. Steven Stamkos

Lightning Look Ahead

  • Wednesday, April 17 vs. Toronto Maple Leafs, 7 p.m. ET, AMALIE Arena - Buy Tickets