There's nothing like a fast start to make the home fans happy -- and put another "W" in the win column. Just ask the Buffalo Sabres
The Sabres got goals from Tyler Myers, Jordan Hecht and Clarke MacArthur, the fastest three goals from the start of the game in franchise history, and held off the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-3 on Wednesday night for their fifth consecutive win.
Myers' goal 23 seconds into play came on a slap shot immediately following a faceoff. Hecht scored 48 seconds later on a tip-in from the slot, and MacArthur finished the flurry by scooping a rebound past Mike Smith.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it was the fourth-fastest start by a team since 1979-80, and the fastest since Detroit scored three times in the first 1:48 of a 12-0 rout of Chicago in December 1987. It was also a huge contrast to the Sabres' recent efforts at home -- they had been outscored 4-1 and outshot 54-20 in the first period of their last five games at HSBC Arena.
"It was nice to come out the way we did," Myers said. "Especially the way we started some games here in the past, we're starting to figure out we have to play a full 60 minutes if we want to win a hockey game."
The early burst was a nice surprise for Sabres coach Lindy Ruff.
"It's not often you get three goals that quick," Ruff said. "Some of them were seeing-eye dogs that found a way to go in."
The Lightning recovered from the early blitz to make a game of it, getting goals by Martin St. Louis and Victor Hedman 82 seconds apart to make it 3-2 after one period.
"I couldn't believe it," St. Louis said of the Sabres' three quickies. "You can't put yourself into a hole like that. It's hard."
The Sabres made it 4-2 just 1:19 into the second period on Drew Stafford's power-play goal, but Vincent Lecavalier tucked in a rebound at 5:34 to make it a one-goal game again. Jason Pominville put home a loose puck at 7:25 to restore the Sabres' two-goal lead again -- a goal that survived a lengthy video review.
It's the Sabres longest winning streak since a six-game stretch in December 2007.
Ryan Miller, playing his 300th NHL game, finished with 36 saves. TampaBay outshot Buffalo 13-5 in the third period, but Miller was flawless -- and a bit lucky, Mattias Ohlund rang a shot off the post midway through the period.
"Even though we made a game out of it, we didn't play our 'A' game and I don't know if they did either," Ohlund said. "There were a lot of chances back and forth."
"Tampa has a lot of skill and they've been going good lately," Miller said. "We weren't going to keep them completely flat on their back."
The Lightning are 5-2-1 in their last eight. Smith, making his seventh straight start, stopped 30 shots.
"Obviously not the way you want to start a game," Smith said. "That put us behind the 8-ball right off the bat. I didn't even have a chance to get a sweat in."