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game recap

Stamkos, Lightning get past Sabres for 10th win in 11 games

Breaks tie in third period, Kucherov has three points

by Heather Engel / Correspondent

Stamkos' clutch goal in the 3rd

TBL@BUF: Kucherov feeds Stamkos for go-ahead goal

Nikita Kucherov takes the zone and drops a pass to Steven Stamkos, who controls the puck and rifles a heavy wrister into the back of the net

  • 01:06 •

BUFFALO -- Steven Stamkos broke a tie late in the third period to help the Tampa Bay Lightning defeat the Buffalo Sabres 5-3 at KeyBank Center on Saturday.

Stamkos made it 4-3 with 5:16 left after assisting on Nikita Kucherov's tying goal at 6:17 of the third, 23 seconds after the Sabres took a 3-2 lead.

"I was just talking to [Kucherov] the whole time [telling him] that it was a forward that was backing up on the right side," said Stamkos, who scored from high in the right face-off circle off a drop pass from Kucherov at 4-on-4. "We knew that with a 2-on-1 and a forward, he's not comfortable playing defense. As soon as [Kucherov] dropped it I saw that he doesn't gap like a normal defenseman so I had some time to pull the puck in and shoot."


[WATCH: All Lightning vs. Sabres highlights]


Brayden Point, Ondrej Palat and Ryan Callahan scored, and Louis Domingue made 30 saves for Tampa Bay (35-8-2), which has won 10 of its past 11 games. Kucherov had two assists and leads the NHL with 75 points (22 goals, 53 assists). 

"We have a 3-2 lead, we're playing well, we're attacking the game," Sabres coach Phil Housley said. "We make a mistake but it's still 3-3. We have some penalties going on where it's 4-on-4. It's a situation, we're changing, they have two of the best players on the ice in the game. We put our forward in sort of a bad position there on the rush. You can't give those opportunities to players like that coming right down the slot."

Video: TBL@BUF: Callahan adds insurance goal on power play

Sam Reinhart, Tage Thompson and Marco Scandella scored, and Linus Ullmark made 25 saves for Buffalo (23-16-6), which has lost two straight games and eight of its past 11, including a 4-3 loss at the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday.

"We're in these games," Scandella said. "We've just got to find a way to get over the hump and win some of these games. I just feel like tonight, again, we play a great game for 55 minutes and in the last five minutes, we've just got to find a way to be better. It's just not good enough."

Point gave the Lightning a 1-0 lead at 26 seconds of the first period after he picked up a loose puck at the bottom of the left face-off circle. It was his eighth goal in the past eight games, and fifth in the past three.

Reinhart tied it 1-1 at 5:47 when he scored from the high slot.

Video: TBL@BUF: Reinhart finds twine with wicked wrister

Thompson put the Sabres ahead 2-1 with 10 seconds left, sliding in a shot into the far side of the net off a pass from Zemgus Girgensons on a 2-on-1.

Buffalo outshot Tampa Bay 16-6 in the period.

"If you had watched us play Carolina (in a 3-1 home win on Thursday), it was the exact same thing," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "We sleepwalked through the first period, especially [against] a team that had to travel and come in on a back-to-back and we just didn't execute. We thought it was the first day of training camp. But to be honest, I left them alone and let the leaders take over in the second period."

Palat tied it 2-2 at 7:50 of the second period after Mikhail Sergachev faked a shot before passing to him.

"Anytime he can get the puck at the blue line and has that shot fake that buys him some extra time, that's a huge part of his game," Stamkos said of Sergachev, who is in his third NHL season. "That's what we need from him on the offensive side. He's shored up a lot defensively in the short time he's been in this league already and he's going to continue to get better."

Video: TBL@BUF: Kucherov strikes after Stamkos' steal

Scandella gave Buffalo a 3-2 lead with a backhand through the five-hole at 5:54 of the third.

Callahan's power-play goal made it 5-3 with 1:19 remaining.


They said it

"We've gone through this really good stretch and there's just been different ways of winning. We've been down a goal, down three goals, up a bunch; there's just that comfort level on the bench. Just stick with it. It might not always go our way as much as we'd like it to but we're going to find a way." -- Lightning captain Steven Stamkos on what feels different this season


"There's frustration, yeah. But we're right there. There's not time to dwell on it. We're right there, we're right in the hunt, that's where we wanted to be at the start of the year. We've got to embrace that challenge and get back to putting points up more consistently." -- Sabres forward Sam Reinhart on Buffalo no longer holding the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference with the loss


Need to know

This is the first time the Lightning have had three players with at least 50 points through their first 45 games of a season: Kucherov, Point (61 points; 29 goals, 32 assists) and Stamkos (51 points; 24 goals, 27 assists). ... Rasmus Dahlin's assist on Reinhart's goal was his 20th of the season, making the 18-year-old rookie the seventh defenseman in NHL history to have that many before his 19th birthday.

Video: TBL@BUF: Thompson deposits Girgensons' pass


What's next

Lightning: At the New York Islanders on Sunday (Barclays Center; 7 p.m. ET; ESPN+, MSG+, SUN, NHL.TV)

Sabres: At the Edmonton Oilers on Monday (9 p.m. ET; TVAS, SNW, MSG-B, NHL.TV)

Video: Lightning beat Sabres behind Kucherov's three points

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