BUFFALO - Patience paid off for Alex Killorn and the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Alex Killorn's backhander 1:50 into overtime gave the Lightning a 3-2 victory against the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday night, completing a 2-1-0 season-opening trip.
Killorn picked up a whiff by Eric Brewer in the slot, swept to his right and lifted a backhander over Jhonas Enroth, who had dropped to the ice in anticipation of a shot by Brewer. He resisted the temptation to shoot right away and gave himself a better angle.
"I know Coop [coach Jon Cooper] always likes me to shoot the puck, not hold onto it too much," Killorn said. "You just had to kind of make a read and I realized I would've had a better opportunity if I held it for a second, so it worked out."
Cooper knows exactly what he was talking about.
"He is a shooter. He's got a phenomenal shot," he said. "I remember we used to joke when he was playing for me in the American League. I was like, 'Killer you might have an NHL shot there.' So then when he's in the NHL he doesn't use it, so I've been on him a little bit."
The Lightning host the Florida Panthers in their home opener Thursday night after victories against the Chicago Blackhawks and Sabres following a season-opening loss to the Boston Bruins.
The two goals by the Sabres (0-3-1) matched their combined total in the first three games.
Tampa Bay tied the game 2-2 at 5:43 of the third period after a controversial penalty against Buffalo's Thomas Vanek, who was called for high-sticking Matt Carle although television replays indicated that Carle was struck by his own stick. The call negated a goal that would have given the Sabres a 3-1 lead; instead, Teddy Purcell beat Enroth for a power-play goal that forced overtime.
"We dug ourselves in a little hole but we showed a lot of resiliency and character and that's good to see that early on," Purcell said.
Vanek was confused by the penalty call.
"I don't know. I just saw it from the penalty box. I didn't even know I got him," he said. "I scored a goal 10 seconds later and all of a sudden it was a penalty. I thought [the official] was a little bit off today. It happens. Too bad."
Buffalo coach Ron Rolston said he didn't even get an explanation of the call.
"I don't know what happened there," he said. "We thought we were going on the power play and we ended up getting the goal disallowed and being short on top of it. It was interesting."
Vanek said he didn't even argue the call.
"He's not going to change his mind and give me the goal," he said. "I just thought he was wrong. It doesn't matter me yelling and screaming at him."
Cooper had a slightly different view.
"The arm was up, I think, and it was tough," he said. "It was a late whistle so I think that's why everyone was up in arms. The way it played out, that was a big momentum swing for us."
After a scoreless first period, Buffalo opened the scoring at 11:09 of the second when Cody Hodgson scored a power-play goal. Tyler Johnson tied it at 13:35 when he beat Enroth over the shoulder with a wrist shot.
Brewer took a hooking penalty at 17:11 and the Sabres went ahead for the second time as Jamie McBain beat Ben Bishop for Buffalo's second power-play goal of the night.
Bishop finished with 21 saves. Enroth, playing in place of starter Ryan Miller, made 31 saves.
Tampa Bay plays its next seven games at home after a tough trip that saw the Lightning start their season by facing both Stanley Cup finalists.
"To come out with four of six points it's a pretty good start for us," Purcell said. "We're always a pretty good team on home ice so I hope we can carry that momentum on Thursday."